The Times Of India, Aug 8 2017, New Delhi: More than 50 international organizations and 21 winners of the Goldman Environment Prize, also known as the Green Nobel, have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to intervene and prevent the forced eviction of more than 40,000 families in Narmada Valley. Earlier, philosopher and social scientist Noam Chomsky and more than 800 people from 30 countries wrote to Modi asking him to ensure that those affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam are rehabilitated before the gates are closed and water is allowed to rise to its full height of 138.68 metres.

Eighteen Members of Parliament had also earlier written to Modi, asking him to intervene as the health of Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar and the 11 others on fast declined. The indefinite hunger strike began on July 27, at a village in Dhar district expected to face submergence. On Monday, police forcibly attempted to break the protest and took Patkar and some others on fast with her to a hospital in Indore. However, others have since joined the fast at the protest site and even those whom police arrested have continued to fast.

1996 Goldman environmental prize winner Albena Simeonova of Bulgaria, who organized people against ill-designed nuclear power reactors and teacher and environmentalist Cath Wallace of New Zealand who won the Goldman in 1991 for her work in protecting the fragile ecosystem of Antarctica, joined nineteen other winners to urge PM Modi to intervene immediately and ensure that fundamental rights of life and livelihood of the people are protected. Chomsky had earlier signed a letter to PM Modi written by, among others, the Asian Peasant Coalition, Association for India’s Development, Earth International, World Rainforest Movement, The Asian Human Rights Commission, Rivers Without Boundaries International Coalition, Landless Workers Movement-Brazil, International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs-Copenhagen, Denmark, seeking rehab for the affected before submerging their land.

The letter mentions that the government closed the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam on June 17, without completing the rehabilitation of more than 40,000 families in Narmada Valley. Rehabilitation sites are in poor state and lack basic amenities that need to be provided as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award.

In a press release on Tuesday, the National Association of People’s Movements said the Madhya Pradesh government was acting against the interest of people and selectively interpreting the February 8 Supreme Court order by continuously trying to forcefully evict people without ensuring rehabilitation. “In the absence of basic facilities and house plots at rehabilitation sites, the MP government has built tin shades for temporary resettlement. Government is trying to shift families residing in Narmada Valley to tin shades which is inappropriate and unable to accommodate a whole family, livestock and tools being used by people. No judgment has ever talked about providing temporary settlement,” the NAPM press release said, adding that this betrayed the lack of seriousness on the part of the state governments of MP and Gujarat and even the government at the Centre to ensure that people affected are properly rehabilitated.

The press release also noted that the government has not so far initiated dialogue with people sitting on fast. MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had only expressed concern over Twitter, and Union minister for water resources Uma Bharti too had asked those on fast to break it.