Social activist Medha Patkar on Saturday ended her 17-day fast to protest against the government’s ‘apathy’ towards resettlement of those affected by the increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
Patkar, however, would remain in detention. She was detained on Wednesday, hours after being discharged from a private hospital in Indore.
On the request of several organisations associated with the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the social activist ended her fast. “Fifteen members representing various organisations went to Dhar jail, where Patkar has been detained for the past three days,” former MLA Dr. Sunilam said, adding: “Keeping her health condition in mind, the members requested Patkar to call off the fast.”
The former legislator also said “five false charges have been registered against Patkar and the hearing over the matter would take place on August 17”.
Patkar has been told that the “entire nation” is supporting her over the Narmada dam issue. The letters written by several organisations including Rajya Sabha MP and Janata-Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav were also shared with her.
She was told that the “people urged her to end the fast”. Dr. Sunilam said Patkar ended her fast by drinking lemon water in her prison cell.
Several personalities like Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Parikh, former MP from West Bengal Hannan Mollah, Annie Raja of National Federation of Indian Women, Akhil Gogoi of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, former MLA Dr. Sunilam, senior journalist Chinmaya Mishra, Pramod Bagri, Saroj Mishra and Meera were also present.
The height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, on the Narmada river near Navagam in Gujarat, is being increased by 17 metres to 138.72 metres. The Supreme Court had ordered resettlement before July 31 of people of a town and 192 villages that fall in the submerged area.
“The Madhya Pradesh government has presented false figures and provided wrong information in the Supreme Court. The apex court’s instructions are also not being followed,” Patkar had alleged.
“A major part of Madhya Pradesh would fall in the submerged area with the increase in the dam’s height. The government is planning resettlement in areas which are muddy, there is no facility available… how would people and livestock survive,” she wondered.
The Narmada Bachao Andolan, in a statement, had alleged that the project was initially pushed “in the name of drought-affected people in Gujarat”.
“It is obvious that it was being pushed in favour of the corporates and in the interest of electoral politics,” it said.