Skip to main content

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.
The decision to for a satyagraha has been taken amidst villages in the Narmada valley getting flooded, electricity being cut of, and authorities hell bent on filling in the full reservoir level of 138.68 metres in the Sardar Sarovar dam. The water level has already reached 133 metres, and homes and fields of people getting submerged even though "these are not supposed to be under the submergence level", claims NBA.
Meanwhile, top NBA leader Medha Patkar has issued an appeal for broader support, demanding “no submergence without complete rehabilitation”, claiming that not less than 32,000 families still reside in 192 villages and one township of Madhya Pradesh, and hundreds of adivasi settlements in the hilly region of Satpuras and Vindhyas -- all of whom are "under threat".

Excerpts from Parkar’s appeal:

Many of you may have been wondering why haven’t we rushed for relief and rehabilitation (R&R) work with the flood affected in Bihar, Maharashtra, Kerala or elsewhere in the country this time, as we did in past – tsunami, cyclone, Kosi floods, Morbi dam break or Kutch earthquake.
We, on the other hand, are sorry that you are not here in the Valley this time.
We completed 34 years of Narmada struggle on August 16 yet couldn’t celebrate it as we didn’t know whether this very day would be the “Dooms Day.” We however remember your support and contribution to the long battle.
We are stunned to know and find that the Gujarat is determined to keep the gates closed or open it only to release limited water. They are adamant on getting Sardar Sarovar filled up to 139 metres, the full reservoir level, water levels have already touched 133 to 134 meters. Their deadline is October 15 for attaining the final level as a final stroke while we are striving to hold on to our Mother River, our lifeline.
The people here, labourers and farmers, fishworkers and all are at the struggle front with a strong force of women. They have invested their soil and toil, raising issues, seeking democratic to human rights. The women have proved their perseverance, their creativity and sensitivity, pursuing the cause – not against but for true development. On the path we traversed, we did win the prizes and awards but not for ourselves, but as accreditation for the people’s social movements, our politics, our ways and means, our vision.
The displaced all over the valley and country, who are not rehabilitated fairly and justly, have always seen a hope in whatever is achieved by the Narmada dwellers in Sardar Sarovar. Yet we know, there are thousands of families, cattle, trees, and all kind of services alive in the generations old communities that we thought should not be massacred. We believed in the State’s response to be secular, socialist and sensible. 
We realised the limits of the system – lowest in compassion and capacities and the highest in corruption. All this, we learnt from, communicated and cherished as not just experiences but exhibits that can bring in education and communication across the world. The human rights to human values that form a framework beyond the constitutions and laws were the polar support for the non-violent battle in Narmada.
Not just the people but environs of Narmada formed our canvass and we did raise these aspects of the project, critically to show that the mirage of benefits and beneficially is also at the cost of the survival of the River, its bed to estuary, the riverine land to forest. All this has sustained the sources of livelihood of the lakhs of people. Thus, the death and destruction of this ecosystem needs to be prevented if the river is to deliver the promised benefits.
We have seen the Narmada reduced to a dry bed to be crossed on feet, for days on in the year. Gujarat has witnessed with us the sea ingress up to 80 km and the religious spots teeming with people become barren spots.
But today, we face the Narmada in its full fury, not only because of the rain but also because of the mismanagement and devious ways of the state power. We are in the villages and hamlets (mohallas) where power is cut off!
Pushing us in the darkness for a petty magnitude of ‘power’ is symbol of what the county is being made to face in the name of progress and development. Not just villages, but our schools, health centres, our banks, our submerging cities, our economy and politics too are being cut-off from our lives and with that the rays of hope.
We hold on to the land and our lives, not just rights, carry the burden of history, yet don’t know how much of it will be and can be saved.
Nisarpur, the largest village, its market and some mohallas are vacated as the traders were not able to bear losses beyond what they faced over years. Their alternative complex is not ready but plots are allotted to them.
Dalit mohallas in Bijasen, farmers’ mohallas in Picchodi, Avalda and Jangarva, their affected families have not yet received all R&R benefits and have no other house to go. These include some houses far away from water level, till now, and some who are excluded after conclusion that they are not affected by (unscientifically) reached back water levels.
There is an ongoing tussle between Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The statement by the Madhya Pradesh minister for Narmada were strong but there was R&R subgroup (of Narmada Control Authority) meeting, following which there will be full NCA meeting on August 21, where decisions continue to be made. All this are just formality, giving sanctions to already decided schedule to fill water up to 134 metres by September and 139 metres by October 15, 2019. 
This too doesn’t and can’t match with the schedule for completion of R&R and practical expectations!
Hence “bina punrvas doob nahin” (no submergence without R&R), the slogan chanted by the minister for Narmada, reading our banner, recently when he heard us for three hours!
All this is fine, but the doob (submergence) is at our doorstep. The gates of Indira Sagar (12 gates) and Omkareshwar (five gates) were opened on August 16. Water would reach villages – houses, farms, temples, road, electricity poles and what not.
We plan the next steps beyond what is already. We have to reach to Bhopal, but also start indefinite action. We wait to know the plan by our supporters, in Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra and all over in this moment of crisis.
With the powerful at the throne, we can’t be hopeless or powerless, but we are, no doubt, helpless.

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.