Demanding proper rehabilitation as promised by the government, hundreds of villagers from Badwani and Dhar Districts in Madhya Pradesh who were affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) on Narmada river have been sitting on relay hunger strike for the last 27 days.
Large numbers of the project affected families who were to receive Rs. 60 lakh and Rs. 15 lakh, as ordered by the Supreme Court last year, are still awaiting for compensation.
Narmada Bachao Andolan, in a memorandum submitted to the Narmada Rehabilitation office in Badwani, stated that the rehabilitation sites in the district does not even have drinking water supply and the land where the sites are located is not even levelled.
Activist Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan said that the rehabilitation process is mired with corruption at every level. “Government had forcefully taken away the land from the Adivasis and members of the lower castes. The dam oustees have been making rounds to their rehabilitation offices to claim their legitimate compensation but are left with no hope as the authorities who are obliged with the responsibility are resorting to corruption,” Patkar told Newsclick over phone. She added that the rehabilitation sites where project affected families are residing are lacking in basic amenities making their lives worse.
Patkar added that there are more than 11,000 cases still pending with the grievance redressal authorities (GRAs) which were setup to resolve the disputes over the compensation owed to the oustees of SSD in Madhya Pradesh.
The villagers had earlier announced to go for an indefinite dharna from September 5, if the government authorities do not come forward to resolve their long pending demands. On August 23, nearly 200 members from 28 villages in Badwani had gheraoed the rehabilitation office in the district. The villagers claimed that the sites where they are presently residing do not have street lights, drainage lines, health centres, education centres and cremation grounds.
SSD was inaugurated on September 17 last year by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As a consequence, two lakh people from 192 villages and one township were forcefully evicted out of their homes in the state.