Bhopal: On the fourth day of ongoing protest at Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA)’s office in the state capital, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) chief Medha Patkar accused the Madhya Pradesh government of knavery.
“The Kamal Nath-led Congress government has failed to fulfill any of the promises made during September 9, 2019 meeting held in Indore with government officials and NVDA minister Surendra Singh Baghel,” Patkar said at a press conference here on Tuesday.
The NBA leader said the government had agreed to give compensation of Rs 5.80 lakh to every person entitled for it. “They promised to conduct a survey of those who have been shifted to tin sheds after their home submerged in Narmada water and compensate them immediately. Besides, the government officials had agreed to conduct an immediate survey of those villages who were out of the backwater level, but, submerged, etc,” she said
However, even after passing “their own deadline, the government failed to address any of the issue they have agreed upon,” Patkar alleged, adding that it was time the government kept its own promises because thousands of people were suffering every day.
Since November 16, 2019, hundreds of NBA workers have been protesting outside the NVDA office demanding rehabilitation, compensation of lost crops and alternate employment as their crops submerged in Narmada flood.
Until then, three meetings between NBA workers and government officials have been held, but Patkar has refused to call off the strike.
On Tuesday, NBA workers and principal secretaries of Agriculture, Revenue and Law of Madhya Pradesh held a meeting again in a bid to work out a solution.
“During the three-hour-long meeting, the officials agreed to issue work orders of their previous promises. Food for flood-hit people and their animals living in tin sheds set up by NVDA and clear all payments due by November 30, 2019. Boats will continue to run in the areas submerged in backwater, and so on,” sources said.
Ever since the Sardar Sarovar dam downstream was filled to the brim (138.8 meters), 192 villages of Narmada Vally (Dhar, Bharwani and Alirajpur) submerged in water.
During the press conference, Patkar said, 7, 000 people have submitted complaints of major crop loss and compensating them was the biggest challenge before the government. “The government officials have also agreed to compensate farmers who have lost their crops and lands, but, they are chalking out ways to do it. The final decision is yet to be taken.”
The 65-year-old Patkar, however, said that it was good that the government was open for dialogue, unlike during the 15 years of Bharatiya Janata Party rule in the state
Meanwhile, Badal Saroj, a senior leader of the All India Kisan Sabha, presented a five-page report on the findings of public hearing conducted on November 18, 2019 by journalist LS Hardeniya, Kisan Sabha president Jasvinder Singh, Gandhian Dayaram Namdev and former Chief Secretary SC Behar outside Narmada Bhavan.
In his address, Saroj lambasted erstwhile governments for their lethargic approach to the issue. “The office of NVDA lies on the same road where office of VYAPAM (infamous as multi-crore Vyapam scam) is located in. So, injustice, corruption is rampant here too.”
In 18 points, the report highlights the ordeal of Narmada Valley flood-hit people. “No government has done any justice to the people of Narmada Valley. Now, it’s time for the Chief Minister Kamal Nath to stand up for them and initiate meetings with the CMs and officials of (MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra), demand compensation and resolve the issue.”
The report recommended a joint committee of government officials and eminent persons, who could visit the entire Narmada Valley to assess the social and environmental impact of the Sardar Sarovar Dam and present a report to the government.
To keep an eye on the rehabilitation of flood-hit people, the report also recommended formation of a state-level committee of government officials and five NBA workers.