Jal Satyagraha: MP govt reaches out to protesters

It took 51 people stay immersed in a river for 14 days to make the Madhya Pradesh government swing into action. On Saturday morning at 9am, state Industries Minister Kailash Vijavargiya will meet a delegation of activists from Narmada Bachao Andolan to resolve the protest in Khandwa district.

To control the water level in Narmada, which is flowing above the danger levels, state government had ordered opening all the gates of Omkareshwar dam in Madhya Pradesh. The move will eventually leave 30 villages made of 4,000 families submerged in water. Protesters say that according to Supreme Court judgment, the state government should have rehabilitated them, six months before taking any such step.

 Jal Satyagraha: MP govt reaches out to protesters

Visitors at the Narmada dam. Agencies

“If the dam is filled to its full capacity, the water level will be increased to 196.6 meters. In that case, the villagers will lose their land. And there is already no record of this land with the government. So, you can imagine that there is already very grim hope of getting compensation,” Alok Agrawal, member, Narmada Bachao Andolan told Firstpost.

“Currently, the water level is around 190 metres. It has started effecting the crops of nearby villages,” he added.

At the time when Narmada Hydroelectric Development Corporation was constructing Omkarehwar projects— 520 megawatt capacity dam which was completed in 2007—the state government assured villagers that it would implement the rehabilitation and resettlement policies meant for such projects and that their livelihood would not be affected. However, the villagers say that they have not even been identified for compensation.

What angered the protesters is the fact that while local leaders from the Congress and the CPM visited them, till Friday there was no communication from the ruling BJP government.

"Well, I think the government has no choice but to listen. And if it doesn't, there are going to be very serious consequences because there are some people in neck-deep water and some response has to be made, both on democratic ground and humanitarian ground. You can't let people just drown, and I think it's imperative that the government respond immediately to the demands of these people," NDTV quoted Aruna Roy, National Advisory Council (NAC) as saying.

Updated Date: Sep 07, 2012 22:11:23 IST