Days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Gujarat for inauguration of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, activists opposed to the displacement of tribal families in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh intensified the protest. On Thursday, while a group of activists and affected tribal families protested in the national capital, another protesting group, led by the Medha Patkar-led National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), held a protest outside the Mantralaya gates in Maharashtra.
Modi is slated to inaugurate the newly-constructed gates of the Narmada dam on his birthday on September 17.
The new gates have raised the height of the dam to 138.68 metre.
Hundreds of families from tribal hamlets in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar were part of the protesting group outside the Mantralaya.
Contesting the government’s claim that the work of rehabilitation of families in the submergence zone of the dam had been completed, NAPM activist Yogini Khanolkar alleged that “thousands of families in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are yet to be rehabilitated”.
“In fact, thousands of families previously declared as project-affected people (PAPs) when the dam height had been raised to 121 metres were deprived of the rehabilitation benefit. While they are yet to be compensated, the government has now stopped identifying them as PAPs,” she said.
Khanolkar further complained that the villagers were being forcefully evacuated to temporary tin shed shelters, and that the rehabilitation sites remain inhabitable and lacking basic facilities.
“The rising water levels have endangered the lives and livelihood of tens of thousands of people,” said the memorandum submitted to the CMO by a delegation of the activists.