No threat from filling Omkareshwar, says government

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat has urged Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to ensure the safety of Omkareshwar dam oustees.

For over a week, they have been standing in neck-deep water, as part of a jal satyagraha to protest against the State government’s decision to raise water level in the dam.

“I have been following with dismay the reports that the water levels in Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams in the Narmada Valley have been raised in contravention of [court] orders, causing a great deal of hardship for the affected people and displaced persons through submergence of several plots of lands and houses. I am shocked to learn that this has occurred without prior rehabilitation and resettlement..,” the Polit Bureau member has written to Mr. Chouhan.

“I urge you to immediately order a reduction in the water level in Omkareshwar” and “send a senior Minister to the spot to take immediate measures and to assure the oustees and particularly those on jal satyagraha that your government will go by the court orders of not raising the water level without completion of resettlement and rehabilitation.”

On Friday, the State Human Rights Commission passed an interim order directing the government to ensure the safety of the oustees, who have been protesting the decision to raise the water level in the dam (from 189 to 193 metres).

The government, on its part, has said the filling of the dam “will put no threat to human lives,” and all oustees have been provided compensation as well as rehabilitation.

CPI’s appeal to Manmohan

New Delhi Special

Correspondent reports:

The Communist Party of India (CPI) has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to prevent the submergence and displacement of 150 additional villages in Madhya Pradesh owing to the raised water levels in the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams.In a letter written to Dr. Singh, CPI secretary and Rajya Sabha member D. Raja drew attention to the fact that courts had laid down that dam-displaced people must be settled and rehabilitated six months in advance of submergence.