PM Modi closes gates of Sardar Sarovar: Can Narmada be saved?

Starting in 1961 when the foundation stone of Sardar Sarovar Dam was laid, the humongous project has seen numerous protests since then — some of them long-drawn and intense.

But the displaced people, mostly tribals and rural population of Madhya Pradesh, have not been rehabilitated. The SS Jha Commission, set up by MP High Court in 2008 to assess the large-scale irregularities in the state government’s relief work, reported immense corruption in the process, which resulted in oustees uprooted from land and livelihood and reduced to destitution.

In the protest held at Chhota Barda Ghat of Barwani district, the participants stood waist-deep in river water in defiance of the dam’s establishment for three days, ending on Sunday evening. Similar protests were held in other places, some led by the Communist Party of India.

Patkar, one of the founders of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), claimed the displaced families have not been rehabilitated and compensated.

“Fields which were once fertile and flourished maize and cotton, are now drowning in the rising water,” states an account by two Greenpeace activists. Human rights activists say that about 40,000 families are going to be displaced because of the dam.

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