Amenities elude Sardar Sarovar evictees


Makeshift existence: Life at Anjanwada village. Photo: Annu Anand
Makeshift existence: Life at Anjanwada village. Photo: Annu Anand

Displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project, hundreds living on the hills lining the Narmada banks are denied basic amenities

A satisfied smile flashes across Chuna’s face. At least for few months, she won’t have to worry about feeding her children. Leaving behind all the day’s work, 35-year-old Sarla was also rushing to the village outskirts. She didn’t want to let this opportunity go.

Just like Chuna and Sarla, all men and women were running towards the village end, near the bank of the river, where in the name of a ration shop, wheat, sugar and salt were scattered on the ground. The village was getting PDS grains after a gap of six months. Running towards this makeshift ration shop, the villagers were simultaneously worried by the thought that the PDS shopkeeper may leave before they reach and their children may have to face hunger and starvation again.

This was the scene in Bhitada village in Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district — one of the villages that have been affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project. One can reach this village only after travelling 44 km by road followed by a one-hour travel boat ride and a three-km-long walk. The whole village has been divided into five clusters or falias and these clusters are inhabited by about 350 families. Each cluster is at a distance of about two km.

According to the draft Food Security Bill, it is the responsibility of the State government to ensure that each family below the poverty line gets subsidised ration from the PDS shops. But families living on the bank of Narmada — affected by the Sardar Sarovar project and inadequate rehabilitation — are forced to live on the mercy of government officials for their day-to-day sustenance. They get rations after months on end and that too for only a few hours. By the time the news of ration arriving spreads in their scattered homes in the village, the makeshift PDS shop gets dismantled. Nandla Bhai who came to deliver PDS ration was selling the salt costing Re. one a packet for Rs. 5 to the villagers. He justifies his action saying, “Transporting the ration over such a distance increases the cost of the goods.” But transport charges are being paid by the government! Nandla didn’t have any answer.

There are 15 villages in the Alirajpur district that are surrounded by the Narmada due to the dam project. As the dam’s height kept on increasing, these villages got submerged leading to loss of land and homes. Improper rehabilitation has led these villagers to struggle for their basic needs like food, health and livelihood. Government schemes like PDS, mid-day meal, MGNREGA and anganwadi are implemented in these villages in the official records but because of inaccessibility, their scattered nature and inefficiency and corruption on the part of the government, most of these schemes remain exist only on paper.

Around 13 years ago, these villages were filled with lush green fields. There was a road to reach the village. But beginning from 1996, these villages started getting affected. By 2000, their farms and houses were completely submerged. In this situation, many villagers had to seek shelter in the hills that line the bank of Narmada. The rocky nature of these hills makes it difficult for the villagers to even find a place to set up their homes.

Anjanwada is one such village. The health, school facilities and nutrition for children here remain a challenge. The population of this village is around 360. The government has started a primary school for the children in the village but for most of the children, the school is only accessible by an arduous boat ride or an hour long walk through the rocky terrain. The school and the anganwadi are situated at the same place. The anganwadi is unable to provide nutrition to needy children since it is difficult for them to cross the river or cover the long distance daily. There is no health centre in the village. Electricity and roads still seem like a distant dream for these villagers.

Khajan Singh of Anjanwada lost his 12-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son three years ago as he couldn’t provide them timely treatment. The nearest health sub centre is located in Kakrana, 12 km away and can only be reached by a two-hour-long boat ride from Anjanwada.

The Madhya Pradesh government claims that all 45,000 displaced in the Sardar Sarovar Project have been given adequate compensation. Meera Kumari of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), however, says, “ Nearly 3,300 families have been given the first instalment of cash component. But due to the Fake Registry Scam, they have been unable to buy the land. As of now, the matter is in High Court.”


JOIN PROTEST-Illegal arrest of activists and forcible land acquisitions in Chindwara #dELHI @NOV6

Join in large numbers !

Protest Demonstration outside Madhya Pradesh Bhawan, November, 6th @ 2:30 pm

Urgent Action demanding the Madhya Pradesh Government

To withdraw cases, against Dr. Sunilam, Sheshrao and Prahald, leaders of Kisan Sangharshn Samiti, leading to their life sentence

Take action against police officers who are behind the Farmers’ massacre in Multai on January 12th 1998

Stop ongoing forced land acquisitions in Chhindwara district for the Pench Water Diversion Project

Release Advocate Aradhana Bhargava, Medha Patkar, Mukesh Bhagoriya and 21 other activists of KSS and other movements

Dear All,

Delhi Solidarity Group along with other organizations is holding a protest demonstration at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan on November 6, 2012 @ 2:30 pm demanding the Madhya Pradesh Government to release Dr. Sunilam, Suryavanshi Parmandal and Prahlad Agarwal who have been sentenced for life on charges of murder, arson and others. The Madhya Pradesh Government has falsely charged them for the murder of a fire brigade driver at Multai on January 12th, 1998 when police gunned down 23 farmers. The firing happened when farmers of Multai protested demanding better compensation from the Digvijay Singh Government after crop failure due to rain and cold. The core issue of farmer’s killing has been completely ignored by the MP Government to such an extent that not even a single FIR was registered against those officials who ordered the firing. Instead the police booked Dr. Sunilam & other leaders of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS), who were leading the farmers protest. In last 9 years BJP government has withdrawn nearly 1,75,000 cases against its own workers but has failed to do any justice to the farmers of Multai, who not only lost their dear ones but also didn’t get any justice till date and are having to go to court on every hearing. Many of these farmers are already dead in fact.

While the MP Government has not yet answered such questions of subversions of law that are adding to the culture of impunity which has become their trend to silence voices of public interest by misleading the judiciary, they are also imposing forced evictions & acquisition of land on for Pench Water Diversion Project at various villages of Chhindwara district. The project planned in 1984, which never took off, is now being resurrected on the basis of an invalid environmental clearance mainly to provide water to the Adani Thermal Power Plant, which is under scanner for environmental violations already. The arrests of KSS leaders is to suppress the strong resistance in Chhindwara against the vested interests of the state government and elected representatives from the region by the Movement. Around 1,000 farmers are sitting in protest opposing the forced acquisition to save their lands on the 31st October 2012 at Bamanwada village after which a huge police force is stationed there and also Section 144 (Prohibitory orders) has been clamped to terrorise people there.

In a brazen act of rights violation on November 3rd, in early morning Advocate Aradhana Bhargawa, leader KSS was arrested and detained by the Madhya Pradesh police in anticipation of the forced acquisition process starting on November 4thThe arrest of Dr. Sunilam & the detention of Advocate Aradhana Bhargawa are purposely done in order to suppress the Farmer’s struggle of Madhya Pradesh.

Delhi Solidarity Group condemns such vindictive move by the Madhya Pradesh Government and its siding with corrupt political forces and using its administrative machinary to facilitate pecuniary benefits to private corporations.

We demand that MP government immediately withdrawal these fabricated cases against Dr. Sunilam & other leaders of KSS, so that they can be released from Bhopal Central Jail. Also let there be no forcible acquisition for the Pench Water Diversion Project or Adani Power Plant against the wishes of the villagers, who have passed resolution in their Gram Sabha to that effect as well.

Do join us, in solidarity to protest state repression and in solidarity with Dr. Sunilam and the struggling farmers and farm workers of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Madhya Pradesh.

When- 2.30pm, 6th November, 2012

Where- Madhya Pradesh Bhawan,

2, Bardolai Marg, Chanakya Puri, Gopi Nath, New Delhi, DL 110021


In Solidarity,

Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG)

Contact Persons: Sanjeev (9958797409), Ramesh (9818111562)


National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM)
C/O 6/6 (Basement), Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 014
Mobile +91 9818 905316 | 011 2437 4535
email : ( (Personal) | (Orgn) |
Web :

Read NAPM’s News magazine, Movement of India @



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