First Post, Aug 1 2017, Bhopal: A day after the deadline for families in the submergence areas of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river ended, the Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday said a Supreme Court order allows it to use force but it would not use it at present.

The statement came as Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar’s indefinite fast seeking rehabilitation of affected people entered the sixth day.

File image of Medha Patkar. Reuters

File image of Medha Patkar. Reuters

“The apex court in February had asked the people living in the submergence area of the dam in Madhya Pradesh to vacate houses by July 31,” Narmada Valley Development Authority’s Vice Chairman Rajneesh Vaish told reporters here.

According to Vaish, after July 31, the government could use force to evacuate people, the SC had said, but right now the government had no plan to use force to shift those who had refused to take compensation and move to temporary shelters.

“Force is going to be the last resort to save the lives of people. Right now there is no threat to the lives of people from the (water level in catchment area of) dam, which is being filled by closing the gates in a phased manner in Gujarat,” he said.

According to Vaish, 7,010 families are still living in 71 villages which will be submerged when the dam is full.

Families from other 107 villages, which will be partially submerged, had been shifted, he said.

Activists of the NBA were “misleading” the people, and most of the protesters were “outsiders”, he claimed.

Speaking to reporters elsewhere, Madhya Pradesh Narmada Valley Development Minister Lal Singh Arya also alleged that Patkar and opposition Congress were misleading the people.

Patkar’s indefinite fast seeking proper rehabilitation of affected people entered its sixth day today. She has launched her agitation in Barwani district.

Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann and the party’s state convener Alok Agrawal today met Patkar and extended support.

According to the NBA, 40,000 families living in the submergence area in Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani, Dhar, Alirajpur and Khargone districts have refused to vacate their homes.