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Stop human induced floods, keep Narmada dam water level below 122 metres: NAPM

Counterview Desk 

Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Government of India and the Gujarat government are “responsible for devastating floods” which struck the Narmada valley. In a statement, after getting popular endorsement, NAPM constituents led by top Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, said, thousands of families have been “seriously affected by this year's devastating state-enabled and human-induced floods in the Narmada valley.”
The statement demands that until there is “complete and just rehabilitation” of the people affected by the dam, the water level of the Sarovar Dam should remain below 122 meters, instead of allowing it to reach the full reservoir level, i.e. 138.68 metres, in order to ensure that wide areas, where people still live in submergence areas, are not adversely affected.
It added, “Reservoir not being emptied on time to celebrate Prime Minister Modi's birthday led to the massive submergence and destruction on September 17.”

Text:

The devastation caused by floods in more than 100 villages of the Narmada Valley has once again exposed the government's negligence, false assessments, and failed 'development' models. National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) believes that the responsible parties for this disaster are the Central and Madhya Pradesh governments. We demand an accurate assessment of the damage to the affected people, prompt surveys according to the law, and immediate assistance compensation and rehabilitation. Additionally, officials who falsely assessed the backwater level levels and did not follow the law should be held accountable. Reassessment of backwater levels, compensation and rehabilitation benefits for the submerged land, houses for the affected families must be ensured.
This year's devastating flood has brought back to the spotlight the issues raised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan at various levels and in courts, over decades, questioning the intentions and (in)actions of the government. Some of the main reasons for this flood are:
  1. The government kept the reservoir filled in September to commemorate Prime Minister Modi's birthday (17th September, 2023), contrary to law.
  2. Not opening the gates of the Narmada Dam in time.
  3. Narmada Valley Development Authority arbitrarily changing the previously established backwater levels and assessing the new levels in an unscientific manner.
We believe that if the government had been even slightly sensitive to the people, this disaster could have been mitigated, to a large extent. However, the government has callously ignored the demands of the people, disregarding their rights to life and livelihood!
Emptying the Narmada reservoir as per the regulations did not happen because the BJP-led states (Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat) wanted to showcase the full reservoir on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday, revealing the appalling nature of both central and state governments.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan has been raising its voice against the government's wrong assessments for years. But by ignoring their concerns, the Madhya Pradesh government incorrectly assessed the backwater level, and the area the government claimed would not get submerged ended up being submerged! Thousands of people suffered losses, and lives were lost. By lying and basing their assessment on a flawed model, the government has put the lives of thousands of people at risk. This is another vivid example of BJP's 'fake news'!
In the downstream areas of Gujarat, cities like Bharuch and Ankleshwar, thousands of houses were affected. Fishermen and farmers have suffered severe losses. If the reservoirs are not properly and timely managed by the government, the adverse effects will continue to burden ordinary people, which is completely unjust!
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) strongly condemns this widespread destruction brought about by the government. We support all the just demands of the people of the valley and insist on their complete and fair rehabilitation.
We call upon the Central and state governments to comply with the decision of the Narmada Tribunal, all orders of the Supreme Court (including the order of 24th October, 2019), and the rehabilitation policies of all states, maintaining the water level of the reservoir dam at 122 meters until complete and just rehabilitation takes place.
We appeal to millions of people living in various river valleys across the country to strengthen the struggle to halt the construction of large dams based on flawed 'development' models created by different governments. We urge you to stand with the thousands of people affected by submergence in Narmada this year.
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