New Delhi: A year after their displacement from the flooding of the Naramada river in Madhya Pradesh, thousands of families now refer to the 26 tin sheds in the region as their home. However, as of now these camps in Dhar, Barwani and Alirajpur are brimming with filth. Food supply was also stalled by the state government last year.
Bearing the double brunt of flooding and the COVID-19 virus, the residents of these tin sheds have now been deprived of electricity as well as water connections, say activists.
Shortage of drinking water and a Rs 6 lakh worth electricity bill
There are over 300 residents in the Batinaka tin shed situated in the Barwani district. Dhiren Solanki, a farmer, is one of them. Speaking to NewsClick over the phone, he said: “We pleaded to the officials to not take away our electricity. We do not have power connection over the past one week.”
Reportedly, the electricity bill of the tin shed is close to Rs. 6 lakh, an amount the state government is refusing to pay. Residents of the region alleged that they are now being asked to pay up.
Solanki said: “They took everything away from us. I live with a family of five and have nowhere to go to. The shed has been my home for the past one year, but there is no water for us to drink, tankers come in once in perhaps two or three days and water lasts for a day at the most. How does one survive like this?”
Water level increasing yet again
With monsoons approaching all over again, the water level of Narmada river is nearing the 136 meter mark.
Speaking to NewsClick, another resident, Devendra, said: “For the state government, the priority is to deal with the virus and the gimmicks associated with the formation of the government, not the people it uprooted from their own homes and then shoved into this filth.”
He said: “The officials told us that the maximum that they will do for us is to restore electricity for two days after which we will have to fend for ourselves.”
As it is, the displaced families have been scrambling for space as the rooms in these tin sheds are 10X12 and are not sufficient for physical distancing needed between people amidst the pandemic.
The region has witnessed widespread protests in the past one year, after the water level in Narmada river crossed the normal 132 meter mark, affecting more than 2.5 lakh people, living in 192 villages spreading across– Badwani, Dhar, Alirajpur and Khargone districts of Madhya Pradesh -- and 175 villages in Bharuch, Narmada and Vadodara districts of Gujarat.
The flooding of the Narmada river is seen as a major policy failure of successive Madhya Pradesh governments, the brunt of which is being borne by over 30,000 families currently living in makeshift accommodations.
While the state government claims to have provided rehabilitation to the displaced persons, activists from the Narmada Bachao Andolan allege that that the lives of over 32,000 families are still at risk.
Also Read: COVID-19: `No Water to Wash our Hands, Living in Filth” Say Narmada Valley Residents