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The Hindu on : Rising dam level poses threat to 'satyagrahis'

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Sunday, August 08, 1999

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Rising dam level poses threat to 'satyagrahis'

By Our Special Correspondent

BARODA, AUG 7. With the heavy rainfall in its catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh during the last few days, the backwater level of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada is rising alarmingly threatening the ``satyagraha hut'' in Jalsindhi and Domkhedi on the river bank.

According to a spokesman of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) here today, the water level at Jalsindhi village stood at 98 metres, just about two metres below the ``satyagraha hut'', where Ms. Medha Patkar and some of her associates were offering satyagraha against the ``unjust submergence'' of the villages in the Narmada valley due to the construction of the dam.

Jalsindhi in M.P. and Domkhedi in Maharashtra along with Hafeshwar temple in Gujarat will be among the Akrani and Akkalkuva tehsils in Maharashtra and Alirajpur tehsil and plains of Nimad in M.P. to be submerged in the dam backwater this year following the increase in the height of the dam by five metres and another three metres of hump as per the clearance given by the Supreme Court.

The submergence this year, according to the NBA spokesman, would displace about 2,500 families even as the Gujarat Government was yet to properly resettle the families displaced at the previous height of the dam at 80.3 metres before the apex court permitted fresh construction. In view of the court indictment for criticising the clearance given by the apex court to construct further eight metres, the NBA today sought to shift the blame on the State Government stating that the apex court was apparently misled by the ``patently false affidavits'' filed by the Gujarat Government on resettlement.

It was the second time in the current year that the level of the backwater of the dam was rising alarmingly threatening the satyagrahis.

About a fortnight ago, the level rose to about 97 metres at Jalsindhi after which it started receding as the rainfall ceased in the upper catchment areas. The NBA feared that if rains continued in M.P. for a couple of days more, the backwater level would rise enough to wash away the ``satyagraha hut.''

The spokesman said a large number of sympathisers of the NBA representing various voluntary organisations in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra and even Gujarat were staging symbolic satyagraha with Ms. Patkar to demonstrate their solidarity with the cause. A 12-member delegation from the villages to be affected by the proposed Koliari dam in Gujarat was also participating in the satyagraha demanding immediate stoppage of the further construction of the dam to avoid displacement, the spokesman claimed.

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