Medha Patkar protests in Bhopal against raising Narmada Dam height

Activist Medha Patkar and other protesters staged a protest here on Friday against the Gujarat Government for beginning the process of raising the height of the Narmada Dam.

Bhopal: Activist Medha Patkar and other protesters staged a protest here on Friday against the Gujarat Government for beginning the process of raising the height of the Narmada Dam.

The central government has approved a long-stalled proposal to raise the height of the dam to 455 feet from 400 feet, so that more water can be made available for drinking, irrigation and power generation.

The project will benefit Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat. He has campaigned for approval to raise the dam's height to protect farmers from drought.

However, Patkar, who has long campaigned against the project, said about 250,000 people will be displaced.

Crusader of 'Narmada Bachao Andolan' or 'Save Narmada Movement' Patkar, along with other displaced farmers, staged the protest in front of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's residence.

"Madhya Pradesh has also invested in it the project. The state is giving 20,882 hectares of land for it. Modi is lying that Madhya Pradesh is getting electricity for free and Shivraj Singh did not counter or protest against his single comment," said Patkar.

Meanwhile, Patkar added that as per new law, land acquired more than five years ago, where acquisition is still pending, still belonged to owners of the land.

"Today, the crisis is all across the area of Sardar Sarovar Dam. Amid this crisis, we have not only come here to beg but to give a challenge. The new law of Land Acquisition 2013, Article 24 (2), states that if the compensation has been announced five years before and the physical acquisition from the people is yet to done, the people stand as the owner of that property from January 01, 2014 again," added Patkar.

Families, whose lands have been acquired for the project, are yet to be rehabilitated or compensated. Patkar said around 45,000 families live around Sardar Sarovar Dam area, out of which at least 42,000 belong to Madhya Pradesh. Only 30 people have been give land for rehabilitation.

Villagers in close proximity to the damn were shifted to rehabilitation camps in 1992 and have been staying there ever since. They have demanded jobs and compensation which they had been promised by the government but are yet to receive.

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