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MP govt bends to villagers on 'jal satyagraha', agrees to meet all demands

After 51 villagers spent 17 days in water in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh to seek compensation for lands lost due to a dam, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh today announced that the government would attempt to meet all their demands and would allocate land to all those affected by the Omkareshwar dam.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today announced that the state government would form a five-member committee and in three months a decision would be taken about allocating the land to the villagers, CNN-IBN reported.

"We will attempt to meet all the demands of the protesters," Chouhan said, adding that they would reduce the levels of the Omkareshwar dam despite the fact that it would affect irrigation and electricity generation projects.

Villagers protesting in Gogalgaon village in Khandwa district. Screengrab from CNN-IBN.

The state government will meet the Supreme Court requirements and allocate land to compensate the villagers who had lost land, the chief minister said.

The farmers will have to return 50 percent of the compensation given by the state government so far in order to get the new land allocation, the channel reported.

The government has also agreed to reduce the water levels at the Omkareshwar dam to 189 metres, it reported.

The government's decision comes on the day a Central government committee was to visit the site where the villagers were conducting a unique 'jal satyagraha', where they remained immersed in the water demanding that the state government meet their demands.

Last week, ministers from the Madhya Pradesh state government had met with the protesting villagers and assured them that their demands would be met.

However, the non-government organisation Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which has been spearheading the protest, has said the villagers would not leave the water until the dam level was lowered and the waters they were sitting in receded.

The NBA has also said it would now continue its protest in villages that have been affected by the Indira Sagar dam in Harda district of the state where 90 villagers were affected and a similar agitation was being staged.