As the water level in the Narmada dam has reached 138.68 metres mark, which is the full reservoir level (FRL), ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, September 17, the Narmada Bahcao Andolan (NBA) has called for a major protest rally in Badwani, the town in Madhya Pradesh bordering Gujarat.
NBA said, the protest, which would be held on September 17 afternoon, near about the time when Modi will be celebrating waters overflowing the Narmada dam, has been organised “there is an outcry in the Narmada valley, which is surrounded in a thick veil of sadness, as millions of people do not even remember how many days it has been since they have either slept or eaten properly.”
Criticising the Government of India for “cruelty and arrogance”, NBA said, “The people of the valley are unable to understand that why the representatives they choose to uplift our country and society are instead drowning them today”, regretting, “So far no orders have been issued by the Madhya Pradesh government, too, on the decisions taken in the full-day meeting between NBA and the state administration on September 9.”
Pointing out that the Madhya Pradesh administration is failing to take action with regard to relief and rescue work for dam oustees, NBA said, “There are many villages where not even a single officer has reached yet. You will see more people from the villages than from the administration coming out to help the people trapped in this devastating situation.”
“People, regardless of the condition of their house, without even thinking of the water which has reached the door of their houses, have come out in large numbers to help out others”, NBA said, underlining, “On one hand, Modi will be celebrating the submergence of millions of people, on the other, we will take out a huge rally in Barwani and spread our voice to the whole nation.”
Meanwhile, a senior Gujarat activist, DN Rath, said, “About 117 villages are marooned due to the flood water of Narmada. NBA leader Medha Patkar sat for 9 days’ hunger strike to save the marooned people of Madhya Pradesh. Not only the villages of Madhya Pradesh , many villages of Gujarat also marooned . The city of Bharuch on the bank of Narmada is flooded and people are moving in boats. Bharuch district’s 23 villages have been alerted.”
Wondering why is the Gujarat government not releasing the stored Narmada water in the canals, Rath, who heads Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), said, had this been done, “the flooding of the villages of Madhya Pradesh could have been saved. And the dry Narmada canals could have been used to help Gujarat farmers.”
Regrets Rath, instead, the Gujarat government decided to store water to make it overflow and invite tourists to the spot. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani invited Modi to come to the Sardar Sarovar dam to celebrate his birthday. “What a vulgar way of celebration of birthday, it is shame! There is no iota of human feeling for the affected people of Madhya Pradesh.”