Gujarat government opens 25 gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam, Victory for 34 year old Struggle
Both the Chief Minister & Deputy CM of Gujarat had to reach the dam site of Sardar Sarovar beyond midnight, this time not to raise the height of the contentitious dam, but to open the 25 out of 30 gates, letting the Narmada waters flow as has been the demand of the people in the upstream and downstream of the valley. On International Adivasi Day, today, as also the Martyrs Day, this is victory for the 34-year-old struggle.
However, the situation in the Narmada valley is still critical. Not less than 32,000 families continue to reside in the 192 villages and one township of MP and hundreds of Adivasis in the hilly region of Satpuras & Vindhyas. The villages with hundreds of houses, fertile farmland, shops, small industries, fisheries and cattle on large scale as well as temples, mosques, and various cultural monuments…lakhs of trees, yet not submerged. The rehabilitation as per the Supreme Court orders of 2000, 2005 and 2007 as well as the Narmada Tribunal Award which is a law/decree, is far from completed, even though the struggle has achieved land, house plots, resettlement sites with civic amenities and various grants to thousands belonging to all categories of the affected. To submerge the properties and communities of Adivasis and other farmers, labourers, fisherpeople (who have 37 cooperatives with rights but ) are awaiting an agreement on the reservoir fisheries, is illegal, unjust and unethical.
The Congress government of M.P .began a dialogue with the movement after coming to power, unlike the former government over the past 15 years. They realized and admitted that there are thousands of families still in the submergence area and they can’t be ousted by imposing a watery grave. They also realized and exposed the fact that Gujarat has cheated the States of MP and Maharashtra by keeping the main riverbed powerhouse, depriving them of the only benefit of power generated from the dam, that is, 56% and 27% respectively! The issues were raised by the People’s Movement as well as the State Government challenging the Gujarat and Central authority against their demand to fill the reservoir up to the full height, that is, 138.68 mts. A serious controversy and hot debate came up in the media and threw the mass actions in the valley, including a rally on 31.07.2019, with the strongest women power.
With the heavy rains and no proper regulation & monitoring of at least tens of major and medium dams on Narmada and its tributaries, there is a havoc created in many villages. The present government too has fallen short of the required zeal and speed in dealing with many policy, planning and execution issues related to rehabilitation. No one’s property can be submerged without full and fair compensation which is land, livelihood and amenities as per the law and judgements.
However, when forcible submergence and eviction started in various Adivasi hamlets and villages in the plains, Satyagraha began at Rajghat in Barwani, MP, on the August 7 tis year,with the young and old, women and men, sitting firm, ready to face waters. Finally, after eviction of a few families, condemned by NB Andolan, it was after the news on the decision to open the gates and assurance to review the numbers and rehabilitate all the thousands of families, involving the true representatives of the people and their movement came forth, the satyagraha was suspended at 2 am on August 8.th. with a warning that can be resumed again, if the governments do not fulfill the promises and prevent submergence.
Narmada, the oldest of the riverine civilizations, is facing drought and flood, destroying its ecosystem, the age-old habits, the best of forests and tree cover, as well as the prime agriculture and horticulture. All this along with the archeological remnants depicting human history, is a loss to the world, if it turns into a disastrous ecological transformation. The people of the Valley are determined to take to an indefinite Satyagraha if they do not attain their rights but also if Narmada is not preserved as a perennial flowing mother river.
Courtesy : Sabrang India