Social activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and 24 other women ended their indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday after nine days. The decision came following discussions with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s envoy and former Chief Secretary S C Behar at Chhota Barda in Barwani district.
In his statement on the ninth day of the hunger strike, Chief Minister Kamal Nath assured NBA that all their demands will be met and the issues of the drowned victims will be resolved.
The letter said: “The efforts of the Madhya Pradesh will be to ensure that the gates of the dam remain opened and increase in the levels of the dam to its full capacity [of 139 metres] to be postponed.” The waterlogging had resulted in widespread flooding in over 192 villages in the state of Madhya Pradesh while putting 33 villages in Maharashtra and 19 villages in Gujarat in danger.
The NBA leaders led by Patkar will now hold discussions with the officials of the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) on September 9.
NBA had called for an indefinite satyagraha, demanding rehabilitation and protection of lives and livelihoods of over 32,000 affected families. Among other things, it was also demanded that the water level of the dam be maintained at 122 metres, which already rose to over 134 metres.
Medha Patkar, alongside other women and locals, was observing a hunger strike since August 25 against the Gujarat government's refusal to open the gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam.
On the ninth day, as the health of the protesting women started deteriorating, CM Kamal Nath’s delegation met with the NBA and conveyed that talks will be held with the Gujarat government in the coming days.
According to Chief Minister Kamal Nath, previous meeting with the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), a machinery set up to implement directions and decisions of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT), had failed, as the matter was not taken seriously by the NCA officials.