Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar has continued her
indefinite hunger strike despite state government issuing an ultimatum in
view of her deteriorating health.
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar has continued her indefinite hunger strike despite state government issuing an ultimatum in view of her deteriorating health. Speaking to HT’s Neeraj Santoshi, Patkar said that she will not break her fast until officials assure that they will rehabilitate those displaced by Sardar Sarovar Dam. Excerpts :
Q:Why did the mediators sent by the CM on Saturday fail to convince you?
MP: They can never convince us because they had no information. They came as a delegation from the chief minister and not for a decisive dialogue. They had to go back and brief the CM. They went back accepting that rehabilitation was not complete.
Q: Why are you not breaking the fast despite CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan making an appeal?
MP: Along with the appeal, the CM is also saying on Twitter, that Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDTA) is fully and fairly implemented . The government is carrying on with the same ‘asatya’ (untruth) and so our satyagraha must also go on.
Q: What are your preconditions to break the fast?
MP: We have already made it clear that there should be no displacement without proper rehabilitation, which has also been endorsed by Supreme Court’s judgments since 2000. There are thousands of families who haven’t got their due. They cannot live without a source of livelihood on temporary rehabilitation.
Q: What will you say to those who are worried about your health?
MP: They should worry about the life and death of the people in Narmada valley. I am not the only one who is fasting, there are 12 of us. We are just the representatives of the people who are screaming and appealing to the conscience of the nation.
Q: The damaffected families are not ready to move out despite the threat of submergence. Would you appeal to them to shift to safer places?
MP: Which place is a safer than the community in which they are living? It is illegal to push them out into tin sheds or anywhere without a proper source of livelihood. How can they (the authorities) force the families to live the rest of their lives without ensuring quality of life?
Q: The government has announced a new compensation package for projectaffected families. Is that not sufficient?
MP: The new compensation package (has been) announced in one way and reflected in the government order in a different way. The packages do not ensure the legal entitlements of each family. Now, every benefit is offered only if people demolish their houses.
Q: Why do you think the MP government is pushing the project despite it primarily benefitting Gujarat?
MP: It is obvious that Gujarat is one state which wants to make this issue as political as possible before the upcoming elections even when they do not need water this year. Shivraj ji is supporting the project only because both the state’s have the same party’s government and Modi ji’s rule is autocratic and undemocratic.