The menacing submergence waters in the Narmada River, assuming horrifying proportions due to the Sardar Sarovar Project, washed away hundreds of cattle, grains and houses in the tribal villages in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and have destroyed the famous micro-hydel power plant in Bilgaon (Maharashtra), built by the tribals in 2004.
The turbulent submergence waters crossed the 127 meters mark at the dam site on August 7. The impact of such a massive water pondage was felt up to Nimad in Madhya Pradesh, more than 120 kms from the dam site. The bridge at Rajghat near Badwani was submerged on August 6. The backwaters of Sardar Sarovar dam submerged almost all villages of Maharashtra and the people lost their cattle, grains and saw their valuable belongings washed away in the swirling waters.
There has been no trace of the Government and police help. Rather the police tried to intimidate the people in leaving the villages. Medha Patkar and 200 activists observed a dharna and picket in front of police present in Chimalkhedi on Tuesday (Aug 8). On the previous day police 'arrested' about 140 children from Danel "Jeevanshala"(Schools of Life), including teachers and activists, when the latter captured the police barge as a mark of protest of unjust submergence. It is obvious that the Maharashtra government has been bluffing on the 'preparations'. In Madhya Pradesh also, the government was nowhere to be seen and yet it flashed in the media as has been ready for 'relief and rescue'. In Bhitada and in other Madhya Pradesh villages, the government machinery is not at all geared up to face the crisis.
The submergence waters washed away the well-known micro-hydel power project, which has been a model of the self-dependent and decentralized development, initiated by the people themselves with the judicious use of the natural resources they have. The power plant has become a model for the pro-people and environment friendly development, and it is learnt that a Hindi film 'Swadesh' was based on the Bilgaon project.
Almost in all the rehabilitation sites in Gujarat, fields were inundated, destroying crops. In many sites such as Karnet, Thuvavi etc water has entered even into the houses! In Maharashtra the waters entered the houses in Vadchhil and Javda resettlements sites and one "nullah" burst, destroying the houses and sown fields.
Despite all these odds, the people are determined to continue with the Satyagraha in Rajghat, Bhitada and Chimalkhedi, against illegal and unjust submergence and displacement.