Social activist Medha Patkar ended her fast on the ninth day on Monday night after receiving assurances from the Madhya Pradesh government about steps being taken to meet her demands, PTI reported. Patkar’s health had deteriorated by the eighth day of her indefinite hunger strike to demand rehabilitation of thousands of people displaced by floods in areas around the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Patkar had launched the “Narmada Chunauti Satyagraha” at Chhota Barda in Barwani district on August 25, and was joined by eight villagers four days later. On Monday, Chief Minister Kamal Nath sent former Chief Secretary SC Behar to hold discussions with Patkar at the site of the protest.
Behar conveyed Nath’s concern to Patkar, and informed her about efforts made by the state government to lower the water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Behar then offered her lemon juice to end the fast. Six other persons also ended their fast after the discussions, the state government said.
The leaders of the Narmada Bachao Andolan will now hold discussions with the Narmada Valley Development Authority on September 9.
Patkar had demanded that the sluice gates of the dam be opened since rising backwater had flooded areas around Barwani. She had also sought rehabilitation of people displaced because of the reservoir’s construction.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan wanted the government to halt the Narmada Control Authority’s directive to fill the dam to its optimum level of 138.68 metres, and instead maintain it at 122 metres. Patkar had claimed that 192 villages and one town would be submerged at that level, affecting 32,000 families.
Earlier on Monday, Kamal Nath urged Patkar to end her fast and help the government resolve the concerns of affected families. He had said the dam project involved four states and none of them could take a unilateral decision. The chief minister said the state government would try its best to open the sluice gates of the dam and halt the filling of the dam to its full level. He also said the government was committed to rehabilitating affected families.