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Monday, 16 September 2019

Celebration of Sardar Sarovar Dam: 'Narendra Modi's birthday a day for us'

Sardar Sarovar Dam's aquifer reaches 138.68 meters for the first time. It has also been announced to celebrate the birth anniversary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 'Namami Devi Narmade Festival'.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the planned celebration and 'Namami Devi Narmade Festival' at Kewadia in Gujarat on September 17.
"It's his birthday and we have his birthday. This is very distorted when the villages are drowned.
These words are from Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan has also announced to oppose the celebration.
Representatives of the Narmada Bachao Andolan say, "Narendra Modi will celebrate his birthday by flooding the homes and villages of millions of people."
"How can the Gujarat government celebrate when people are becoming homeless and cattle are dying?"

Why is the protest being made?

On the one hand, preparations for the celebration are underway in Gujarat while on the other hand many villages of Madhya Pradesh are flooded and thousands of houses have been sunk.
Since the water level reached 134 meters in Sardar Sarovar Dam, villages in Madhya Pradesh were flooded.
Medha Patkar said that a protest program will be held on September 17 in Badwani in Madhya Pradesh.
Badwani district is bordered by Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
The district is also close to the forests of Satpuda and the Narmada river passes through the district.
Court doors have also been knocked out for people not being rehabilitated.
"People from all over the country have been called in Badwani and a rally is being organized," says Mudita Bidrohi, who is associated with the Narmada Bachao movement.
"Apart from this, it has been appealed that people from where they cannot go to Badwani should hold programs in their cities locally."
Mentioning the reason for protesting, Medha Patkar says, "Many villages have been completely demolished. Temples are submerged along with idols."
"The roads are broken and the mall ready on the fields is gone."
Medha Patkar sat on the fast in late August against the government in favor of these villages.
During this fast he had a health condition and later he was taken out of bed.
Anand Mazgavkar, who is affiliated with the Narmada movement, said, "About 32,000 families - about one and a half lakh people - are affected."
"192 villages in Madhya Pradesh are going to be submerged due to floods. The rehabilitation of the people of these villages has not been completed."
"Because of this situation, we have to protest."

'This is not a development at all'

The Gujarat government of Gujarat says that by raising the water level of the dam, he did not violate any of the orders of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the state will continue to get its share of water.
The NCA has allowed the Gujarat government to close the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam, which has been continuously increasing the water level in its catchment area.
The NCA passed a judgment in 1979 regarding water and electricity transmission, which is binding on all party states by 2024.
"We are not opposed to raising the water level in the dam, but the people should be properly rehabilitated before rehabilitation. The government should do this and then raise the water level in the dam," says the Mudita rebel.
"We need to look at the fact that the Gujarat government is doing this by singing water to farmers and the people of Gujarat."
Medha Patkar says that if thousands of people are becoming homeless, this is not a 'development with everyone'.
"Narendra Modi's view of development is different. He does not care for the natural resources of the country and does not have faith in traditions," he said in a talk with BBC Gujarati.
"Narendra Modi understands Narmada more than water tourism. He also views the banks of the river as a tourist destination. All his focus is on him."

'Must be rehabilitated first'

"How can one celebrate when 192 villages are submerged in Madhya Pradesh? There is a question of the homes of millions of people," says Mudita Bidrohi, associated with the Narmada Bachao agitation.
"The water in the villages is increasing day by day. There are 192 villages and a town called Nirspur is also in submergence."
"Even if we integrate the villages of Gujarat, more than 200 villages will be submerged."
"The conflict has been going on for 35 years but no proper rehabilitation has been done and the government has drowned these villages."
"Wherever people live now, there is no drinking water, no sanitation system. People's livelihoods, education are all lost."

Preparations for celebrations across the state

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tweeted, "We are ready to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his birthday for the 'Namami Devi Narmade Mahotsav'.
Preparations are being made across the state on September 17 and special preparations are being made at Kewadia in view of the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sardar Sarovar Dam has been adorned and the district cabinet officials have been entrusted with the responsibility of district cabinet for the grand celebration.
Gujarat state chief minister Vijay Rupani said in a conversation with reporters that 'Namami Devi Narmade Festival' will be celebrated on September 17, the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said, "138.68 meters of water has been filled for the first time in the dam. It will be celebrated at Cavadia Colony."
There will be a statewide celebration at 10am and the state cabinet officials have been given responsibility according to the districts.
Rupani said that in addition, sanitation campaigns and plantation programs will be organized in various villages of the state.
However, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is getting involved in the celebrations at Cavadia, the celebrations will be opposed in Badwani and other parts of the country.
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