|Towards 138.64 metres: Pillars have cropped up on Narmada dam|
By Our Representative
Stepping up the campaign against the ongoing construction of the Narmada dam height from 121.92 metres to 138.64 metres, which is the full reservoir level (FRL), the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has announced the decision to launch a week-long padyatra from Khalghat on Mumbai-Agra Highway in Madhya Pradesh to Badwani, next to the Madhya Pradesh-Gujarat border.
Asserting that the Gujarat government going ahead with raising of the dam height as “development terrorism and destructive displacement”, the NAPM, which is the apex body of large number of grassroots organizations across the country, has said the move will adversely affect 2.5 lakh people in Madhya Pradesh. “Despite the continuous struggle for 30 years in the Narmada Valley, the lives of tribal farmers, fisherfolks, workers and others is under grave threat”, it adds.
“With raising the height of Narmada dam, water can flood villages spread up to 214 kilometers and submerge houses, farmers, shops, schools, temples and mosques, and lakhs of trees. This is a challenge for thousands of families. After every legal and field battle, about 11,000 families would get land but the rest are still without it”, the statement asserts. NAPM is led by well-known social activist Medha Patkar.
“Thousands of adivasis, farmers, labourers, fishworkers and potters, those who have struggled for justice, legal and human, will be ousted and displaced. All of them need the support of those who stood by us and shared their energy, who witnessed the years of struggle, who collided with the rulers, who sang songs with us, who wrote, analysed and spread the voice, vision and the truth of the people’s struggle in Narmada, across the world”, NAPM says.
“At the height of 121.92 metres, the Narmada dam has already glutted thousands of hectares of land and submerged hundreds of houses. Right now, the dam height is being raised to 138.64 metres, and a lot of construction work is nearly complete, and gates are yet to be put up”, the NAPM says, adding, all this has been done by “flouting the decisions of the Supreme Court, ignoring laws and policy and plans, rehabilitation and environmental protection.”
“Every issue related to this dam is an issue related to development”, NAPM has pointed out, adding, “The issue of grabbing thousands of hectares of land, hollow commitments of rehabilitation, left half way and corruption, save the culture and environment of the Valley, diversion of land and water worth crores; to corporations against peasants and other poor. These questions are in resonance with those of the common people and workers of the country and other concerned citizens.”
Appealing all concerned citizens to join the struggle, the statement says, “We will march from August 6, from Khalghat, on the banks of Narmada, on a footmarch through the partly affected and to be submerged villages, and talk about various people’s struggles, walking through Khalghat (on the Agra-Mumbai road, 2 hours from Indore) to Rajghat, Badwani”. On August 12, the padyatra will reach Rajghat, on the banks of Narmada, near Gandhi Samadhi, district Badwani), to “begin the indefinite Satyagraha for Right to Life”, it adds.