Several villages, including low-level areas in Madhya Pradesh’s Nisarpur town, were submerged on Friday after the water level near the Sardar Sarovar Dam rose to 128.3 metres. Led by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, villagers affected by the project staged a “Jal Satyagaraha” protest at Chota Barda village in Dhar district, PTI reported.

As the water level in the dam’s submergence area rose in Barwani and Dhar districts, activists of the Narmada Bachao Andolan claimed that villagers had continued to stay in their flooded homes. However, Indore Divisional Commissioner Sanjay Dubey claimed that villagers were leaving their houses voluntarily. He also claimed that there was no flooding even though the water level was rising.

“People are willingly vacating their houses,” Kukshi Sub–Divisional Magistrate Rishabh Gupta said. “We have pressed the National Disaster Response Force into service to help them and to monitor the situation. The water level was recorded at 128 meters this morning.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Sunday. Convenor of the National Alliance of People’s Movement Arundhati Dhuru, whose organisation participated in the protests, alleged that the dam’s gates were closed to ensure that Modi sees the reservoir filled with water.