Pune: Sardar Sarovar Dam was inaugurated with only industrial and political interests in mind, said Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar during a talk organised by Narmada Bachao Andolan on Friday evening in Pune.
Patkar said that displaced people from Gujarat staged a protest before the inauguration of Sardar Sarovar Dam and this delayed the prime minister's convoy while it was leaving.
"In Bhopal, we staged a programme where people from that state contributed. Both states in which the protests were carried out have said that the major loss was for the people who had to migrate due to this dam. The damage caused to the environment and to the people is immense and irreversible. So the question that needs to be asked today is how are we anti-development," said Parkar.
She added that 40,000 families are living in flooded areas in Madhya Pradesh and the number is also huge for Maharashtra. Many still have to be rehabilitated. Every week, there is the discussion on this.
"There is more discussion and so many families are getting help due to better communication.
“In Gujarat however, the process of acquiring land has started. People have started to protest as young boys from the family who are around 18 years of age are taken for labour," said Patkar. She added that protests are visible in other states as well.
"In Madhya Pradesh, women who are participating are from large villages with a lot of families. And not just villages, there are schools, hospitals, temples and other infrastructure too.
“There are no canal networks. They want companies to form Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor to get the water. Companies like Coca-Cola have signed agreements to get water of around 30 lakh litres per day, for car manufacturers like Nano they have granted 60 lakh litres of water each day and more projects like these are coming up. The corporate interest and political interests are responsible for this early inauguration", said Patkar.
She said innumerable trees and animals will be destroyed if the water level increases. This is one of the oldest valleys in the world and one of the oldest communities that will be destroyed.
"The incomplete canals will not provide water to anyone. Until complete rehabilitation is done we demanded that the dam should not be inaugurated. Only tins sheds are built by wasting crores of rupees and only police are staying there.
“There is temporary rehabilitation where corruption is rampant. The only good thing is that 15,000 families have got land from Gujarat and Maharashtra.
“There is a lot of confusion. No dam has witnessed so much relocation and the tribal belt is almost empty but still, there are many families which are yet to get relocated," said Patkar.
She said that in the future, the stand of 'Narmada Bachao Andolan' will be taken up by many.