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SC verdict and after: the future of
the Narmada agitation

speaks to people from different walks of life
and activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) to
understand the impact that the Supreme Court judgment
on the Sardar Sarovar project has had on the morale of
the concerned citizen and on public perception on where
the movement goes from here

Praful Bidwai, political analyst

Is the Supreme Court (SC) verdict a setback for social movements in the country?
It's a horrible judgment. The verdict has made a mockery of people's rights. I think it's a setback for social movements. This movement, however, is very large and there will definitely be resistance to the court's verdict.

What can be done to remedy the situation?
Well, I think the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has already moved a review petition. The Madhya Pradesh government should also file a review petition as they are getting a raw deal. Gujarat is getting all the benefits, while Madhya Pradesh is paying the cost. If the Madhya Pradesh government moves the review petition along with the NBA, I think it would have a dramatic impact.

Where does Medha Patkar go from here?
I don't really know. She has vowed to continue the struggle. She won't give up. I think her stature has risen after the judgment. I don't know what her next strategy will be. She is an extraordinarily capable leader and will continue the struggle. I am hopeful the agitation will lead to a conclusive end.

Shripad Dharmadhikary, NBA activist

Is the SC verdict a setback for social movements in the country?

I won't say it's a major setback. I do think, however, that it has the potential to have a very serious impact on one of the greatest movements of the people. They (the people) have come together, looked at the movement and raised their voice against the verdict. The people's voice will definitely have a large impact.

What can be done to remedy the situation?

The final court is the court of the people. People have to raise their voice. They should point out what's wrong with the judgment; and by creating public opinion the flawed decision can be changed. Finally, the judgment has to be delivered by the people, as they are the sufferers.

Where does Medha Patkar go from here?
I don't think that is an issue here. The important question is: where do the movement and the struggle go from here? The struggle is not just of one person. The more serious question is: where does the valley go from here? What will happen to the people? In the valley, the answer is very clear: people of the valley have to continue the fight. That is simply because they don't have a choice. Whatever the verdict is, the ground reality is totally different. There is no land and no proper arrangement for the displaced people. When the water rises, where will these people go? People just have to fight.

Arundhati Roy, writer and activist

Is the SC verdict a setback for social movements in the country?
Depending on how the social movement reacts to the verdict, it could either be a setback or a red flag. It certainly clarifies the situation in the valley and that the court has no role to play. They need not expect any help from the court. So, depending on how the movement reacts and understands the judgment, I think it could work either way.

What can be done to remedy the situation?
Well, different things have to be done by different people. Certainly, in the urban areas, the judgment has to be carefully analysed and understood for what it is. People like us who have a voice and who have a space have to counter the myth. It's really hard work. You can't do it in just one article or in one week.

I think the big responsibility has shifted to the people of the valley. They have to decide the future course and how they are going to fight.

Where does Medha Patkar go from here?

I think it would be irresponsible to answer this question. I think it's a time for us to let the battle mature. Let the people of the valley decide what they want to do. I can't decide for them. I do what I do and will continue to do that.

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