In June 2017, the Gujarat government closed the gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam on its side, by consent of the central government. At the same time, it was decided to raise the height of Sardar Sarovar dam, on the Narmada River near Navagam by 17 metres to 138.72 metres. As a consequence, around 40,000 families in 192 villages of Madhya Pradesh are facing submergence.
|Massive rally for rights of Narmada dam affected people|
|Protestors demanding rehabilitation before displacement|
The people of the Narmada Valley have been resisting their displacement due to dams constructed along the river since the last 31 years. This time too, people living in the catchment areas of the dam in Barwani, Alirajpur, Dhar and Khargone districts gathered at various points along the river even as the water level continued to rise and stood chest-deep in it, holding banners and placards that declared “No displacement without rehabilitation”. According to reports, at least 12 leaders and activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, led by Medha Patkar have been on indefinite fast since 27th July at the site of the submergence, to protest the condition of the people.
The Supreme Court had ordered resettlement before July 31 of people of the 192 villages that fall in the submerged area.It has since extended that deadline. The NBA has pointed out that no resettlement has taken place. Even the proposed resettlement sites are hostile to the survival of people and livestock.
This has been the experience of the people since the last 3 decades of struggle. Promises of rehabilitation are made only to be broken. Neither the Supreme Court’s orders nor legislation has made a difference. It is the persistent and united struggle of the people of the valley that has brought whatever rehabilitation and relief they have received. There is widespread support across the state for the affected people. Some 40,000 families did not light their chulhas (stoves) as a mark of protest on 31st July.