MUMBAI, AUG 11: Medha Patkar and 40 other Narmada Bachao Andolan activists have been arrested from a submergence site near Domkhedi in Nandurbar district, Maharashtra as water levels peaked at around 99 metres today.
Patkar and others were waist-deep under water for 18 hours since levels rose dangerously late last night. Domkhedi has about 35 families. The water levels at the other the submergence site at Jalsindhi, in Madhya Pradesh across the river from Domkhedi, is one metre short of submergence, the sources added.
Patkar and other activists of the NBA had refused to vacate the villages slated to be submerged by the rising waters of the Narmada and had threatened to take jal samadhi to protest against the lack of proper rehabilitation facilities for those ousted by the project.
Government sources said that following reports that the water levels were increasing rapidly, the Chief Minister contacted Nandurbar district collector Shri Mali. It was decided to first appeal the agitators to leave the placesince the water was rising to dangerous levels, or to forcibly evacuate them.
When the agitators did not leave the place, the police arrested Medha and her activists. When the agitators did not leave the place, the police arrested Patkar and 40 other agitators at 5 pm and they were lodged at Dom Gaon police station. Additional chief secretary (home) V Ranganathan, rehabilitation secretary Nand Lal and irrigation secretary Shukla have already left for Nandurbar district to take stock of the situation, official sources said.
Meanwhile, over 500 people were evacuated from low lying areas of Broach town and villages on the banks of Narmada in Gujarat today as the river was in spate due to heavy rains in its catchment areas in the past few days.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.