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As Medha Patkar ends fast, Kamal Nath calls Narmada Control Authority 'partial'

Medha Patkar ending fast
By Our Representative
Medha Patkar and other Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists late on Monday broke their hunger strike following “commitment” from Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath that he would address the “unresolved” issue of rehabilitating thousands of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) affected families. While Patkar’s fast had entered the ninth day, 10 her NBA colleagues were fasting for five days.
On the ninth day of Patkar’s fast, several social groups and citizens reached the satyagraha site at Chhota Badada in Badwani district, which borders Gujarat, to support Patkar and her team. These included representatives from the NREGA Mazdoor Union, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, several Sarvodaya mandals and activists of the National Alliance of People’s Movements.
Earlier, the Bargi Dam Affected Union, Jabalpur, and Jan Adhikar Sangh took out a rally in Bargi Nagar and submitted a memorandum to the chief minister. Students of the ILS Law College, Pune, fasted for the day in support of the satyagraha, even as residents of Chhota Badda and other villages observed "chulha bandh" (by refusing to cook) and a bandh was organized at Revanagar and Chikhli rehabilitation sites in Maharashtra.
A chakka jam rally was organized in Ganpur Village in Manawar Tehsil of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh, where several NBA activists, including Wahid Mansoori, Devaram Kanera and Bhagirath Dhangar, addressing about 500 affected people, said that they would oppose the submergence of villages because of the SSP and will not tolerate the government's “repressive” action to evacuate the village. A motorcycle rally was organized in Nisarpur.
In his written assurance, Kamal Nath told NBA leader Medha Patkar that his government is “fully committed to the complete rehabilitation of the affected families”, while it does not want the Narmada dam to be filled up to the full reservoir level which would drown villages, the Narmada Control Authority, the central agency responsible for taking decisions in the matter, is “not cooperating.”

Text of the letter

Sardar Sarovar is an inter-state project, with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat as the party states. Therefore, decisions cannot be taken by any one state alone. Rehabilitation processes are being implemented according to the decisions of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) award, state’s rehabilitation policy and the orders of the Supreme Court.
Disputes related to the rehabilitation are being settled via the Grievance Redressal Authority constituted with five retired judges of the High Court. Madhya Pradesh government is committed to the protection of the rights of displaced people.
Being a welfare state, continuous dialogue process has been maintained by the senior politicians and bureaucrats, including myself, with the displaced people and the Narmada Bachao Andolan, in order to ensure that the issues faced by the displaced people are understood thoroughly and addressed meaningfully.
Kamal Nath with Prime Minister Narendra Modi
In order to ensure the participation of the displaced people in the rehabilitation works, the current government has constituted village as well as district level Rehabilitation Committees in the villages of the submergence area. People’s representatives, social workers as well as the displaced people are being included in these committees.
The current government has given necessary orders to the District Collectors to review the cases of families that were earlier declared to be ineligible, towards providing them with adequate compensation.
The current government has declared 115 new families to be eligible for the compensation of Rs 60 lakh. We have not yet received the necessary amount from the Gujarat government, even after submitting applications towards the same.
In the monsoon season of 2019, the current government undertook mass scale flood prevention and relief measures. Village level committees were constituted and rescue boats, food and temporary shelters were provided to the people for evacuation from the submergence zone.
The decision as well as implementation of the filling of the Sardar Sarovar Dam’s reservoir is undertaken by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA). However, NCA has not been functioning in an impartial manner. The Madhya Pradesh government is opposing the filling of the reservoir this year, towards which the Chief Secretary had requested the NCA on May 27, 2019 to call for a meeting for reconsidering the decision of filling the reservoir.
However, this request was not taken seriously. The meeting that was called for August 21, 2019 was cancelled on August 20, 2019. The Additional Chief Secretary of the Narmada Valley Development Region met the Chairperson of the Narmada Control Authority in New Delhi to request them to not proceed with filling the dam reservoir.
Upon the request of the Gujarat government, a meeting of the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Regulation Committee was called on August 16, 2019, in which the Gujarat government sought approval for filling the reservoir at the rate of 30 centimeters per day. However, this demand was not accepted due to the fervent opposition to the same by the Madhya Pradesh government, to look after the interests of its people.
I want to assure Medha Patkar Ji and all her associates in the Narmada Bachao Andolan that my government is fully committed to the complete rehabilitation of the affected families. Redressal of the demands as well as grievances of the affected families will be undertaken by setting up camps in each village. I sincerely request Medha Patkar Ji to call off her fast and cooperate with us for the immediate redressal of the issues of the affected families.
The Madhya Pradesh government will sincerely endeavour to keep to the gates of the dam open and strive for a stay on the decision to fill the reservoir completely.

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