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Protest planned in Madhya Pradesh during PM Modi’s visit to Gujarat’s Sardar Sarovar Dam

Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar along with the villagers during a protest against Gujarat government at Narmada Ghati Pradhikaran office in Indore.

Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar along with the villagers during a protest against Gujarat government at Narmada Ghati Pradhikaran office in Indore.   | Photo Credit: PTI

At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be offering prayers at the Sardar Sarovar Dam site in Gujarat on Tuesday, which also happens to be his 69th birthday, the people affected by the project’s reservoir will hold a rally in Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani district.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has organised the rally to demand that the gates of the dam, built on the Narmada river, be opened immediately given that its backwater has partially or fully flooded 178 villages in Madhya Pradesh, an activist said.

Mr. Modi will visit the project site at Kevadiya village in Narmada district to celebrate the dam reaching its full reservoir level (FRL) of 138.68 metres for the first time.

The PM is scheduled to worship Maa Narmada at the dam site on Tuesday, said an officer of Gujarat’s Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL).

“We are going to protest at Barwani when Modijis birthday is celebrated, NBA leader Medha Patkar told PTI over the phone on Monday.

She along with the dam oustees had launched a “fast-unto death” in Barwani last month seeking that the SSDs sluice gates be opened to stop its backwater submerging large areas in Madhya Pradesh.

The protest ended on the ninth day (on September 2) after the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh promised to look into her main demands - relief and rehabilitation of the dam oustees and taking up the issue of the opening of the SSD’s gates with its counterpart in the BJP-ruled Gujarat.

“We are going to take out a huge rally seeking that the gates of the dam be opened immediately given its backwater has partially or fully flooded 178 villages in MP, Himshi Singh, an activist of the National Alliance for Peoples Movement, to which the NBA is attached, said.

“We want the sluice gates to be closed only after total rehabilitation of residents of 178 villages in MPs Barwani, Dhar, Alirajpur and Khargone districts, she added.

Bountiful rainfall in Madhya Pradesh has helped in filling the dam in adjoining Gujarat.

A large quantity of water gushed into the SSD situated on the Narmada river’s downstream after sluice gates of Madhya Pradesh’s largest dam, Indira Sagar, and the Omkareshwar reservoir in Khandwa district were opened.

The floodgates of SSD were closed on June 17, 2017, 56 years after the foundation stone of the project was laid by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

For the first time since the height of the dam was raised in 2017, the water level reached its highest peak at 138.68 metres on Sunday evening.

The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) had in 2014 granted the permission to raise the height of the mega dam to 138.68 metres from 121.92 metres. The dam was inaugurated by Mr. Modi on September 17, 2017.

Talking to reporters in Gandhinagar ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had said, “Although the gates of the dam are closed today, it will open the gates of development for Gujarat.”

“The project is a lifeline for Gujarat. This is a historic day for Gujarat as the government led by Narendra Modi has fulfilled the wish of the people of the State, who were yearning to see the completion of the project for decades,” he had said.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 9:34:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/protest-planned-in-madhya-pradesh-during-pm-modis-visit-to-gujarats-sardar-sarovar-dam/article29431657.ece

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