As many as 250 people affected by the Omkareshwar dam project have been standing in waist-deep water since Saturday night, even as the water level continues to rise.

The oustees announced their jal satyagraha protest last month at Ghogalgaon village in the East Nimar region against the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision to raise the water level in the dam from 189 to 193 metres. The 520-MW Omkareshwar project is one of the several big dams on the Narmada. The current water level is 189 metres and the protesters fear that if filled beyond that level, the dam would submerge their lands spread across several villages.

On Saturday, when the water level of the dam rose by 1.5 metres, 250 people entered the waist-deep water and decided to risk being drowned in protest.

“Against SC orders”

“The Supreme Court has held that rehabilitation should have been done before the construction of the dam or at least six months before the submergence,” said Alok Agarwal of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

“The government is acting in violation of SC orders and trying to drive the oustees away without rehabilitation by submerging their lands and houses. But the oustees have resolved that they will not give in and will rather drown than be driven away,” said Mr. Agarwal.