The Hindu, Aug 1 2017, Gujarat: Members of Swaraj India on Monday sat on a day-long hunger strike here to protest the increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river in Gujarat.

The protest, “Vigil for Narmada”, was organised at Jantar Mantar, and attended by over 100 Swaraj India workers, including founder Yogendra Yadav.

Representatives from organisations such as Greenpeace and National Alliance of People’s Movements also joined the agitation.

“With the raising of the dam’s height from from 122 m to 138.62 m, at least 40,000 families stand at a risk of being submerged,” said Mr. Yadav, adding that both the State and the Centre were to be blamed for the “mass murder”.

Lives at risk

The protesters also claimed that the construction of the dam posed a threat to lakhs of people living in over 244 villages situated on the banks of the Narmada in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

“Work on the dam is being fast-tracked because of the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections. But the lives of farmers and fishermen are being ignored because they do not appease to the idea of politics,” Mr. Yadav further said.

Symbolic campaign

The party also organised a symbolic campaign, where the participants were asked to show their support for the cause by dipping their hands in blue paint and printing their hand impressions on a yellow cloth. “While blue symbolises the colour of the Narmada, yellow is representative of our party’s beliefs. We will gift this cloth to the volunteers of the Narmada Bachao Andolan,” said Anupam, Delhi convenor, Swaraj India.

The party also organised a phone call with social activist Medha Patkar, who has been protesting over the issue.

‘Cows before humans’

“The government is focused on saving cows when human beings are dying. They are not even thinking twice before risking the lives of poor people,” Ms. Pathkar reportedly told the protesters.

She added that the grievances of the villagers affected by the construction of the dam should be taken up at the national level.

A candlelight march that was supposed to be held at the end of the programme was called off due to the rain.