The Times Of India, Aug 5 2017, New Delhi: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan decried the inhuman attitude of the Gujarat government in risking thousands of lives in the Narmada Valley by closing the gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam on June 17 despite the rehabilitation of dam-affected people not having been completed.

The Supreme Court directive of February 8 was to complete this rehabilitation within three months, before May 8, 2017.

Unjust displacement without proper rehabilitation in developmental projects is an important social determinant of ill health in many parts of in India. The Sardar Sarovar project is a classic example. Currently thousands of people in the Narmada Valley face an assault on their health and well-being, and even on their lives, due to this closure of the gates, JSA said.

After completion of rehabilitation by May 8, the Valley was to be cleared of human habitation by July 31, to avoid drowning due to the rising waters of the now 139 metre-high Sardar Sarovar dam. The Gujarat government has decided to go ahead with closing of the gates, and MP government started forceful eviction of the dam-affected people, despite non-completion of rehabilitation of about 18,000 families. Fortunately on July 31, in a hearing, the SC was convinced that rehabilitation is incomplete and withdrew its directive that the Valley may be emptied by July 31.
The government does not have the sanctity any more from the SC for forceful eviction. But this is not enough. We demand that the gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam be opened

Immediately, without waiting for directive from the SC in the forthcoming hearing. Otherwise thousands of people in the Valley would be exposed to the immediate risk of drowning in the rising waters of the Narmada.

JSA said many of the rehabilitation sites, the dwellings erected are not fit for human beings. Moreover there are absolutely no health care facilities in these rehabilitation sites. Hence tens of thousands of ordinary people are being forced into inhuman and extremely unhealthy conditions.

The health movement expressed its support for the peaceful agitation of the Narmada dam affected people and the indefinite fast undertaken by Medha Patkar and 11 other activists. “We are concerned about the health and lives of these activists, and urge the Gujarat government to immediately re-open the gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam, to ensure complete and comprehensive rehabilitation to all affected people, and desist from any repressive action against the agitation,” a press release from JSA said.