India: Residents vow to stay & drown rather than leave homes flooded by a Sardar Sarover Large Dam Print E-mail

Monday, 18 June 2007

Villagers refuse to vacate inundated village

Khandwa (MP), June 18: People in a Madhya Pradesh village have refused to vacate their houses after a nearby dam has flooded the low-lying areas.

Villagers of Gunjari village in Khandwa District of Madhya Pradesh are suffering from man-made flood as the closure of the gates of Omkareshwar dam.

Women of Gunjari stood in knee-deep water for hours, as a mark of protest.

Omkareshwar dam project is one of a series of large dams that are being built on River Narmada.

Villagers began the protest after water entered in the low lying villages of the area after administration closed sluiced and radial gates of the dam for filling the reservoir up to a height of 189 meters following Supreme Court's orders of June 11.

Residents said that they would not vacate the villages until a proper rehabilitation facility is provided by the administration.

"They told us that we are outsiders -- we don't belong to this place. We have given them proof, this is our birthplace, we have studied and grown up here but they are refusing to believe us. Water level is rising. We will die here only, we have no other option," one of the villagers said.

"We will not move from there. We will stay there only. We have no other option, what can we do. No one is helping us," said Sarika Devi, a protester.

Late at night the gates of the dam were opened, resulting in decline of water level in the villages. But the officials refused to confirm that the step was taken because of the protest.