Resistance growing in India as dam gates close, threatening to submerge over 40,000 families

On Sunday, August 6, several people’s groups and social movements in India, including the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, has extended support and solidarity to the protesting members of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and expressed strong disappointment about the inhumane act of closing the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, thereby threatening to flood the villages in the upstream.

Publié par Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha – KRRS sur dimanche 6 août 2017

Closing the gates of the dam will drown more than 40,000 families living in the Narmada Valley who are not rehabilitated yet. Social activist Medha Patkar and 12 people who are affected by the dam project are on an indefinite fast in Chikkalda village of Madhya Pradesh, since the last 11 days, against this “forced displacement” of artisans, farmers, labourers, fish-workers, and many others. Latest news point to their deteriorating health condition, but the government has not shown any resolve to solve the crisis and rehabilitate the affected families.

In a statement issued recently the NBA said, “People are on fast against the forced displacement and demanding just rehabilitation…the claimed rehabilitation sites are far from habitable, with even basic amenities like drinking water missing,”

Attending the solidarity meeting in Bangalore Karnataka on 6 August several members of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) also offered support and extended solidarity.

After completion of rehabilitation by May 8, the Valley was to be cleared of human habitation by July 31, to avoid drowning due to the rising waters of the now 139 metre-high Sardar Sarovar dam. The Gujarat government has decided to go ahead with closing of the gates, and MP government started forceful eviction of the dam-affected people, despite non-completion of rehabilitation. Fortunately on July 31, in a hearing, the Supreme Court was convinced that rehabilitation is incomplete and withdrew its directive that the Valley may be emptied by July 31. – according to a report in Times of India.

NBA leader Medha Patkar, who started an indefinite fast on Thursday, while speaking to Hindustan Times pointed out that the government’s list of affected families has flaws. “Many families have left decades ago and many have been removed on the grounds of reduced back water level in the past. But they are in the list while many families still living in submergence area have been left out,” she said. The movement demands that government and authorities provide benefits to farmers as per the Supreme Court orders to ensure alternative livelihoods and to constitute a committee to assess the impact on environment, river and forests by submergence and also the impact in downstream flow of the river.

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The protest has already attracted several messages of solidarity and support from around the worldPakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, another member of La Via Campesina in South Asia, has also extended solidarity with those on hunger strike at Narmada Valley. 

Bangalore in solidarity with #NarmadaSatyagraha. Chukki Nanjundaswamy, KT Gangadhar, Prof Haragopal, Sister Cecilia, Meera Sanghamitra Sudha Nagavarapu Dwiji Guru Signa Yuva Samvada Samvada Ramesh, Nawaz Heggere Pratima R K Naik and many many other friends were there.

Publié par Kavitha Kuruganti sur dimanche 6 août 2017

Fast & Dharna in Delhi, in Solidarity with Medha Patkar and 11 others who are on indefinite since July 27, against…

Publié par Joe Athialy sur jeudi 3 août 2017

Suggested reading:
Maa Narmada Has Been Betrayed, Planting Trees Will Not Save the Displaced People
Ripples in Delhi as Narmada swells; MPs, activists write to PM

Cover Image: Benny Kuruvilla 

Note: The title of this post has been updated for the number of families affected. According to the statements and press release from NBA, the number of families affected would be atleast 40,000.