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27,147 Narmada dam affected families yet to be rehabilitated, NBA estimates ahead of Aug 8 Apex Court hearing

By Our Representative
In a fresh estimate released by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which is leading its last-ditch battle for thousands of oustee, living in Madhya Pradesh, of the Sardar Sarovar dam across the state border in Gujarat, there are in 39,197 project-affected families (PAFs) of 193 villages, out of which just 12,050 are living in rehabilitation sites, while the rest, 27,147, are still living in their villages, and refused to move out.
Providing village-wise details, the details say, of the PAFs who haven't left their villages though might face submergence, there are 5,712 PAFs of Barwani tehsil, 8,077 PAFs of Kushki tehsil, 3,180 PAFs of Manavar tehsil, 3,843 PAFs of Thikri tehsil, 1,065 PAFs of Kasravad tehsil, 516 PAFs of Alirajpur tehsil, 29 PAFs of Maheshwar tehsil, and 4,725 PAFs of Dharampuri tehsil. These PAFs live in 181 villages.
Released ahead of a crucial Supreme Court hearing on August 8 seeking full and final rehabilitation of all 39,000 PAFs before Gujarat's politically sensitive dam's 30-odd gates are closed down to store waters up to the full reservoir level of 138.64 metres, the data show that except for Alirajpur tehsil, elsewhere rehabilitation is extremely tardy.
Meanwhile, as NBA leader Medha Patkar and her supporters' hunger strike, which entered the seventh day on Wednesday, continues in order to press upon the Government of India to withdraw its permission to close down the gates, as it would cause havoc in 193 villages, the protest is gathering increasing support from across the country.
In Delhi, those who sat on protest included well-known academic Yogendra Yadav of the Swarajya India, Dr Sunilam of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Alok Agrawal of the Aam Aadmi Party, Magsaysay award winning RTI activist and intellectual Aruna Roy, former Justice Rajinder Sachar, Annie Raja of the All-India Women's Federation, Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Kavita Srivastava of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, environmentalist Saumya Dutta, Faisal Khan of the Khdai Khitmatdar, among other.
In Vadodara, Gujarat, tens of activists observed one-day fast in support of Patkar and others, led by well-known environmentalist Rohit Prajapati of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti. Others who joined in included villagers from south Saurashtra region, who fought their way to oust the proposed nuclear plant at Mithi Virdi. Those who sat on the fast were activists Jyotibhai Desai, Swati Desai, Lakhan Musafir, Anand Mazgaonkar, Harish Desai, Deepali Ghelani, Rita Choksi, Kamal Thakar, among others.
In a statement issued by activists at the end of the fast in Vadodara, they said, "for more than last 30 years there is a protest/movement going on for people’s rights in the project affected areas of the Narmada Valley."
It adds, "An imminent danger of displacement looms large on 40,000 people of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Even in the absence of proper plans for rehabilitation, the concerned authority decided to close the gates of Sardar Sarovar dam on July 31 this year. It is not understood what the government is trying to prove by doing so when there is no effective usage of its water right now."
"For timely redressal of the issues faced by the affected villages, Medha Patkar along with other activists and villagers is on indefinite fast in Chikhalda village of Madhya Pradesh", it said, adding, Vadodara activists, as part of their all-India protest, sat on "symbolic fast to express their solidarity with the affected people."
In a separate statement, NBA has sharply criticized the Madhya Pradesh government for providing "misleading" information to the state assembly by not mentioning the names of religious spots of backward classes, Dalits and Muslims that would be submerged in Kukshi tehsil. "This shows that the government is not serious in respecting the feelings of the common people", it said.
In Chikhalda village of Kukshi tehsil, where Patkar is continuing her hunger strike, the school children took out a rally in her support. The children carried placards saying that they do not want their school to go into submergence.
NBA claimed, the online petition floated by a former Indian Institute of Management-Kolkata professor asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop the "imminent disaster" by closing the gates of the dam, has received support from 29 countries across the world.

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