Sardar Sarovar Dam closing: Gandhi's MP memorial submerged, thousands affected
When the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat were closed in June, the goal was to allow more water storage, increase electricity generation and reduce overflow periods, among others The fact that people to be affected hadn't yet been rehabilitated didn't stop the government. Now effects are being seen in neighboring MP: the Rajghat in Barwani and other areas have been submerged.
Water level of the Narmada has been continuously rising: from 123.6m (August 30), it rose to 128.5m in 15 days, much above the danger mark of 123.2m. The number of affected families in MP stood at about 18,000 in July. Some reports estimate 40,000. Though authorities insisted evacuation is ongoing, many locals have refused to move: they are still awaiting their promised compensation.
Rescue operations are ongoing at Chikhalda, Dharamray, Karodiya, Koteshwar, Nisarpur and other places, NDRF said. Barwani and Dhar are two severely affected districts. According to Narmada Valley Development Authority Vice-Chairman Rajneesh Vaish, water levels will rise further.
The Rajghat (Barwani) is also under water. Scholar Kashinath Trivedi had brought ashes of Gandhi, his wife Kasturba and secretary Mahadev Desai for the memorial on the Narmada's banks in 1965. However, the government had dismantled the concrete structure and removed the urn containing ashes in July, before Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists launched protests there. It will be built in a safer place.
According to NBA, tens of thousands of people are being harmed "just to celebrate the Narmada Mahotsav on Modi's birthday". The PM is scheduled to inaugurate the sluice gates on September 17, three months after the gates were closed. Meanwhile, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has remained mum. After the inauguration, it will take time for normal life to return for locals.