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Medha Patkar discuss Sardar Sarovar Dam issue with activists, slams government
Daily News Analysis, 11 June 2015, Ahmedabad: Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) chiefMedha Patkar on Thursday discussed consequences of increasing the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam with city-based activists.
“The Narmada valley area has 29 dams in Madhya Pradesh and one in Gujarat. Madhya Pradesh will be the worst affected due to the dam in Gujarat. At least 193 villages in Madhya Pradesh will get submerged in 214 km affected area after the increase in height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam,” Patkar told activists including Indukumar Jani, Dinkar Dave, Hiren Gandhi, Bharatsinh Jhala and Sagar Rabari.
Patkar said that around 55,000 families from Madhya Pradesh will be affected after the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam is increased. She said that affected areas comprise residential localities, agricultural land, markets and schools.
Patkar also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision to increase the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from 121.92 metres to 138.72 metres without involving the concerned ministries and the move was “planned and manipulated”.
“On the seventeenth day after coming to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the decision to increase the dam’s height by 17 metres. Since last eight years, work on the dam had stopped due to four crucial judgments of the Supreme Court that land or properties cannot be submerged without a proper rehabilitation programme,” she said.
“There are two sub-groups of Narmada Control Authority which are the rehabilitation sub-group under the Social Justice Department and the environment sub-group under the chairmanship of the secretary of the environment ministry.
Both sub-groups were not giving sanctions due to which work on the dam had stopped,” she said.
“Since the Supreme Court was time and again issuing directives for proper rehabilitation and compensation in terms of land, the previous government did not dare to sanction the dam, but Modi did not ask anyone. He did not consider anything and took the decision,” Patkar said.
“His ministers, including the minister for social justice, minister of environment and the minister of water resources were not even aware,” she said.
“Everything was done illegally. The concerned ministers said that they learnt about the decision (to increase the dam’s height) only through newspapers. Everything was planned and manipulated. It is against law and Supreme Court judgments. This is a tragedy,” Patkar said.
She also condemned the Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra state governments for poor rehabilitation.
“Madhya Pradesh built only 88 colonies comprising schools and other amenities, but all the affected people were not given land for agriculture. In the last two years, only 30 families were given land for agriculture. Even that was given only partially,” she said.
“In Maharashtra 3,600 families were rehabilitated in ten colonies. There, the Maharashtra government involved us in the process. So, we took land very selectively. Comparatively, land was given properly, but again 1,200 people dam affected people were not given any land,” she said.