Social activist Medha Patkar’s health has deteriorated eight days into an indefinite hunger strike to demand rehabilitation of thousands of people displaced by floods in areas around the Sardar Sarovar Dam, NDTV reported on Sunday.
Patkar launched the “Narmada Chunauti Satyagraha” at Chhota Barda in Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani district on August 25, and 10 villagers joined her four days later.
Patkar has demanded the sluice gates of the dam be opened since rising backwater has flooded areas around Barwani. She has also sought rehabilitation of people displaced because of the reservoir’s construction. The Narmada Bachao Andolan also wants the government to halt the Narmada Control Authority’s directive to fill to its optimum level of 138.68 metres, and instead maintain it at 122 metres.
District authorities did not confirm Patkar’s health status. “I cannot comment on her health condition as she was not allowing doctors and medical team at the site to examine her,” District Collector Amit Tomar told PTI. “I have been sending officials daily to examine her but she has been refusing.”
The government has not been able to persuade her to call off the agitation. State Home Minister Bala Bachchan met her on August 29, and after that Chief Minister Kamal Nath spoke to her over phone in an attempt to convince her to withdraw the protest.
In a statement on Monday, the Narmada Chunauti Satyagraha said it would soon respond to the reply from the Narmada Valley Development Authority on the 33 demands.
Torrential rainfall and rising water level in the dam have disrupted life in thousands of villages along the Narmada on the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border. At least 80 villages across three districts have been inundated as the dam’s water level crossed 133.5 metres following the Gujarat government’s reluctance to release water.
“At least 192 villages and a town may go under if the dam’s water level breaches the 138-metre mark,” Narmada Bachao Andolan member Rahu Yadav told NDTV. “The rehabilitation of people in these parts is not even complete.”
Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.