Press Release
Date: 27.08.2019

Narmada Chunauti: Third Day of Indefinite Hunger Strike

Third day of Medha Patkar’s hunger strike, 4 women have joined her and are sitting on hunger strike in support.

The Additional Collector, Additional SP Tehsildar of Anjar reached Badwani to put a stop to the strike.

Barwani | Medha Patkar, the founder/leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan has been on an indefinite hunger strike in Chhota Badda on the banks of Narmada for three days now. The protest is against the Centre and the Gujarat Government’s decision to not provide proper rehabilitation to the 192 villages and 1 town in Barwani. Today, there are 192 villages and 1 town—inhabited by 32,000 families—that are affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The government’s decision to fill 138.68 metres of water in the dam will drown and kill these families.

Due to the filling of 134 metres of water in the dam, many villages have been submerged. Moreover, thousands of hectares of land, for which, as per the Supreme Court decision, Rs. 60 lakh is yet to be obtained, have also drowned. People are being denied rehabilitation and drowned while they still have not been able to acquire land for their houses.

The Koli Samaj locality of Chhota Badda, where, recently, 5 people died in sand mining, has not received any compensation and is also, now, under threat of being submerged. Anwar, who lives in the same locality, came to the rally and said that not only have there not been any action taken on their application, but the locality will be drowned soon—the water has reached very close to Koli Samaj.

We have surveyed villages and submitted appeals to the government but 15 years have passed and not only has the government not conducted any surveys, it has not shown the willpower to do so. Even today, the demands of the villages remain pending. If the government will not conduct surveys of the villages, thousands of hectares of farmland will drown or become islands that too without rehabilitation or compensation. In a situation where the only livelihood of the people of Nimar is farming, not only the farmers but also everyone associated with this mode of subsistence will suffer and lose their livelihood, making the market fragile. While many people have been allotted plots, they have not been compensated for house bonding because of rampant corruption in the allotment of thousands of crores of land—this is something that has been highlighted in the Jha Commission. Many have been allotted plots, while from many plots have been usurped; the same plots have been allotted to two people while many still are yet to be allotted plots.

The Madhya Pradesh Government of 15 years had been submitting the Zero Balance Affidavit in the court since 2008 and the current government stated that there are 6,000 families residing in the Narmada Valley. However, we believe that there are actually 32,000 families that inhabit the Valley. While the current government has listened to us, it has been 8 months since work has been stalling. Even today, the situation remains the same. The Madhya Pradesh Government should bring forth what the previous government did and should face the Centre and Gujarat Government to immediately open the gates of the dam and start rehabilitation work.

Many villages have drowned because of many dams, owing to the skewed notion of development. In this situation, will the Madhya Pradesh Government save its people from drowning without rehabilitation?

In Madhya Pradesh, the complete rehabilitation of thousands of families still remains—there are no legal facilities at rehabilitation centres. Today, the displaced are struggling in the face of their drowning livelihood in their native villages. We believe that the Madhya Pradesh Government cannot leave their people stranded.

As per the letter dated 27.05.2019 sent by the Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh to the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), 6,000 families in 76 villages inhabit the submerged area. ??8,500 applications and 2,952 applications or 60 lakh for entitlements are pending.??

According to the Narmada Bachao Andolan, many more than 6,000 families in 76 villages—almost 32,000 families—reside in the Narmada Valley.

Work has progressed very slowly on these issues. Today, it is necessary to immediately adopt correct procedures, as, for the past 15 years, there have been several instances of muddling, fraud, false reporting and corruption. The corrupt have, sadly, still not been stopped. Even today, the assurances of returning the petitions filed in the Supreme Court and High Court remain unfulfilled.

The Government of Madhya Pradesh must take the responsibility of ensuring that, under no circumstance, should the water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam exceed 122 metres—for which the Narmada Bachao Andolan i.e., we will completely support the government.

Not only has the party in power given its support to the displaced people in its election manifesto, an all-party consensus was also reached in Madhya Pradesh on this issue both in 1996 and in the 1978 Nimar Bachao Andolan.

After 34 long years of a non-violent resistance, Medha Patkar and 4 women from the affected villages have started am indefinite hunger strike. In support of their indefinite hunger strike, we are going on a serial hunger strike.

Under the decisions taken by the Narmada Tribunal and the Supreme Court of India, it is not only your right but also your legal responsibility to ensure complete rehabilitation before the drowning of these villages.

Bhagirath Dhangar, Narendra Yadav, Rehmat Mansuri, Hukum Jat, Devi Singh Tomar, Mahendra Tomar, Sanobar B. Mansuri, Pemal, Kamla Yadav, Medha Patkar

Rohit Singh (9179617513)
Rahul Yadav (9179617513)