Madhya Pradesh witnessed the fury of monsoon in the month of August. The water levels in Narmada rose to over the danger mark of 138.8 metres as the state refused to open the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Over 192 villages of the state witnessed serious damage with the loss of lives, agricultural and pastoral lands, and cattle. Even as the state is recovering from the ravages of monsoon, the process of rehabilitation is being marred by corruption of government officials and middlemen, with thousands of families awaiting help from the state.
Explaining this, Rohit Singh of the Narmada Bachao Andolan said, “The Madhya Pradesh government initially had a rehabilitation policy. Those who were displaced were paid a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh and one could buy 5 acres of land. This amount was paid in two instalments, in the first instalment Rs. 2,80,000 was to paid, where in the residents had to buy the land and show registry done to the state government.” He added, “After this, the second instalment will be paid. In this process, the government officials and the middlemen fooled the residents to get fake registries done to acquire compensation amount. Initially, over 1,500 families were affected by it, and over 400 middlemen were also involved.”
Activists also allege that the government modified its previous rehabilitation policy to benefit the government officials and the middlemen who split the amount 50/50 amongst themselves leaving the real beneficiaries in the lurch. As a result, they are now demanding that the registries done by the officials must be declared null and void, and proper rehabilitation must be given to those who are now homeless. The worst affected are people belonging to the villages of Nisarpur, Barwani, Basahat, Anjad and Gadhpur.
Also read: MP Villagers Affected by Rising Waters of Sardar Sarovar Protest, Demand Rehabilitation
This issue was raised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan in 2007, when it was taken to the court. The court had then constituted a commission known as the Jha commission which submitted its report in 2016. The commission report revealed a scam running over Rs 1,500 crore. While the middlemen and the government officials have remained scot free, the government tried to suppress the movement by filing cases against the residents who were seeking rehabilitation. However, the Supreme Court later gave a big relief to the NBA as it directed the states to pay over 1,300 families an amount of approximately Rs. 15 lakh. The NBA has also stated that while the BJP government was in power, it favoured its preferred companies to provide rehabilitation tenders, which led to the process being riddled with discrepancies.
Previously in August, the state witnessed fierce protests as the affected villages were on the verge of submergence. Medha Patkar of Narmada Bacahao Andolan, who spearheaded the protest stated that about 32,000 families have been affected by the Sardar Sarovar project in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, who have not been rehabilitated in accordance with court’s orders and directions.
Villagers are still in shock as huge loss of grains and agricultural lands have been reported, along with the death of cattle.
As the crisis worsens, the activists on the ground have alleged that theKamal Nath-led Congress government in the state is attempting to suppress the ongoing movement. Cases have been registered against 15 protesting persons for blocking the National Highway-3 in Dhar district in protest demanding proper rehabilitation on August 13. Additionally, over 400 cases have been filed against unknown persons for the same. Singh added, “The state is trying its best to suppress the movement, but we have been building momentum across villages to demand our rightful rehabilitation in this situation of utmost urgency.”
Also read: Sardar Sarovar Protest: Cases Registered Against Protesters Seeking Rehabilitation