With the waters of the Narmada flooding their villages, people in Madhya Pradesh have resorted to rallies against the state government. Over 50 villages in the Narmada Valley have been completely submerged with the river touching the 137-metre mark.
The flooding has affected public life and farming. The standing crops of farmers has been inundated with the water flow and their fields have been ravaged by floods.
After a 16-day fast in Barwani town and one that lasted for over 14 days in Awalda village, villagers across Pichodi have resorted to mass rallies today. Previously, the residents of Awalda in Barwani district had submitted a memorandum to the authorities to no avail. Later, affected residents too to the streets in protest.
The villages have been affected by the flooding of the river year after year. After the opening of the floodgates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam in the region last year, many families have been forced to live in makeshift tin sheds.
The Sardar Sarovar Project has affected 65 villages in Barwani district, including agricultural land, which has not been fully rehabilitated till date. The residents said that there are not enough plots to settle migrants from Pichodi village. As a result, plots have been allotted at different places, making it a tedious task for farmers to move across the area.
Speaking to NewsClick, Devendra, a villager, from Pichodi said: “A survey of the water level in our village has not been conducted till date. Even today, hundreds of thousands of rupees are yet to be given by the government for constructing houses. The benefits of an order by the Madhya Pradesh government on June 5, 2017, are yet to be received,” he added.
With the land of 27 farmers of Kavathi village submerged, they await the Rs 60 lakh in lieu of an order by the Supreme Court. Farmers Om Prakrush and Shri Ram Patidar have lost over seven hectares of cultivable land as it stands submerged. The maize crop sown in the field sank, and both brothers are become landless today. There have no means of livelihood left, and both the brothers await the Rs 60 lakhs by the Grievance Redressal Authority. However, officials have no concrete answer if any decision has being taken.
A survey by the Revenue Department last year highlighted that 19 hectares of such agricultural land is drowned; the residents living on the land await rehabilitation till date. One such resident is Santosh, who said that his father was supposed to “receive an alternate patch of land but it has not been provided to us till date. Generation after generation we are suffering due to the callousness of changing governments,” he added.
In a small island of about one and a half acres near Rajghat, 17 families are trapped without rehabilitation. Not just families, their cattle and livestock are stranded too. With fodder running out they are making their way into the waters, rowing a boat to ensure that the animals have some fodder to graze on. It is noteworthy that last year, the government had removed these families and their animals from the island by falsely assuring them of rehabilitation. However, the families had to return to the area as they were not rehabilitated.
The region has witnessed widespread protests over the past year, soon after the water level in Narmada river crossed the normal 132-metre 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.
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