Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar

Barwani: Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) founder Medha Patkar has started an indefinite protest over her demand for proper rehabilitation of the flood-affected people in Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani district and opening of gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in neighbouring Gujarat.

Earlier this month, the dam’s backwater level increased following heavy rains, creating a flood-like situation in some parts of the district. Around 100 people living in low-lying areas of Rajghat and Chhota Badda villages of the district were then shifted to safer places.

The dam is built on the Narmada river in Gujarat. Patkar along with five other women sat on the indefinite ‘Narmada Chunauti Satyagraha’ on Sunday at Chhota Badda village, located about 25 km from here, which falls within the dam’s submergence area.

“We had apprised the state government about our demands. Relief camps should have been set up at different villages in the area of submergence…the displaced have not been rehabilitated properly so far,” Patkar told reporters at the protest site.

She said the rehabilitation does not mean giving Rs 5 lakh to the affected households, and demanded that members of the affected families also be provided livelihood.

At least 1,000 residents of the Chhota Badda village are still waiting for proper rehabilitation, she claimed. Meanwhile, the NBA in a statement said since the rehabilitation has yet been not completed, the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam should be opened so that settlements in its catchment area in Madhya Pradesh could be saved.

The dam’s water level should not be allowed to exceed beyond 133 metre-mark as Gujarat is no more rain deficient and all its reservoirs have been filled, it said.

The dams and reservoirs in Madhya Pradesh have also filled up following heavy rains. The rise in the dam’s water level would further increase the risk of submergence in its catchments areas in Madhya Pradesh.