Narmada dam: Thousands protest against inadequate resettlement
As political drama and the India-China military standoff in Doklam are hogging the national limelight among other things, 12 people including veteran activist, Medha Patkar have been fasting over the past week over the government's decision to raise water levels in the Sardar Sarovar dam in Narmada. The move is estimated to submerge the lands of about 40,000 families who are still awaiting resettlement.
Narmada Bachao Andolan: A mass environmental movement that failed
Patkar was at the helm of the NBA, a movement launched in 1986 protesting against the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam, on account of its environmental/social impact. Although it failed to halt construction, it brought to mainstream, environmental and rehabilitation aspects of developmental projects.
What has happened so far?
The dam gates were shut on June 17 in preparation to raise the dam's water level to its full height (138.68 m) threatening to submerge about 192 villages in Gujarat and MP. Although the SC had instructed for rehabilitation of affected families to be completed by July 31, lawyer-activist, Prashant Bhushan and soil scientist Sanjai Parikh had brought inadequate measures to the Court's attention.
Proposed rehabilitation measures are far from adequate!
Families which are being displaced due to increasing the dam's height have been allotted plots which are 90 feet x 60 feet area. This would make it impossible for them to continue farming/cattle rearing. Patkar alleges that these shelters are devoid of basic amenities.
What could happen to these families now?
While the Madhya Pradesh government had instructed families residing in the dam's submergence area to vacate by July 31, they have decided to stay on till fair rehabilitation arrangements are made. Their petition is likely to be heard by the SC next week. Activists are also concerned about the deteriorating health of Medha Patkar who is on the 8th day of her indefinite fast.