Skip to main content

1,500 anti-Narmada dam protesters, leader Medha Patkar detained in Bhopal, released following all-India "pressure"

Women protest while being taken to Bhopal Central Jail
By Our Representative
In a major swoop, the Madhya Pradesh police on Wednesday morning detained approximately 1,500 on protesting Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists and supporters at the Bhopal railway station soon they got down. The NBA activists were first taken to Habibgunj Railway Station and then to Central Jail, Gandhi Nagar, Bhopal.
Among those who were arrested a little later were NBA leader Medha Patkar and Aam Aadmi Party leader Alok Agrawal, when they were seeking to go and meet chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. They were also taken to the Central Jail.
The activists and their supporters had planned a protest against the alleged unilateral decision of the inter-state Narmada Control Authority (NCA) to close the Narmada dam’s 30-odd gates in order to fill up waters in the reservoir up to 138.64 metres.
While being detained, they raised anti-dam slogans. The police said, the activists were being detained on “instructions from above.”
Medha Patkar arguing with cops before being detained
The NBA claims, as many as 192 villages and one town would be submerged as a result of the NCA decision, displacing 40,000 families. It cites government figures to say that at least 18,000 families would be displaced and need to be rehabilitated. The rehabilitation sites, it alleges, are still not prepared for them to be livable.
In the evening, at around 4.30 pm they were let off, following “pressure from large sections of people, including activists, politicians, and intellectuals from across India”, NBA said in a communiqué.
Soon after the detention, the NBA issued an open appeal, seeking support from politicians, activists and intellectuals, asking them to approach by phone, fax and email the DGP, Madhya Pradesh, and the Madhya Pradesh chief minister, among others, to build pressure to release them.
Coffin Satyagraha in Delhi on July 18
An NBA communiqué said, “This is the third time in a month time when police detained the people of Narmada Valley and NBA activists without any reasons”, calling it “the worst dictatorship in India.”
Earlier on Tuesday, in Delhi, the police swooped on protesting NBA activists under the leadership of Patkar, who protested in what they called “Coffin Satyagraha”. Narmada dam affected women lied down in front of the Water Resources Ministry building, covering themselves with a white shroud. The police removed them.
When the protesting women, about 100 of them, refused to budge, the police used lathicharge to remove them. A few of the women sustained injuries. Six women were taken to the hospital, while four went unconscious during the melee.
The protest followed NBA leaders’ hour-long meeting with Union water resources secretary Amarjit Singh, telling him about the danger of displacement looming large over tens of thousands of people. Singh, on his part, cited figures to show nothing of the sort would happen, and the protesters’ apprehensions were wrong.

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…