BHOPAL: A 52-year-old memorial housing urns with ashes of Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi and Gandhi's private secretary Mahadev Desai was shifted from Rajghat in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh to another place in the same district fearing submergence of the structure.
The raising of height and the impending closing of gates of Sardar Sarovar Patel dam had raised concerns about submergence of large tracts of land in Dhar, Barwani, Khargone and Alirajpur districts. Hence the urns were shifted around Wednesday midnight to a location four km away from the original site. Barwani collector Tejaswi Naik said that a grand memorial would be constructed at the new site.
Around 8,000 families might be affected due to the increase in height and the Supreme Court has set July 31 as the deadline to adequately rehabilitate the displaced population in the four districts. Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) head Medha Patkar started an indefinite fast on Thursday against the inadequate rehabilitation of the people.
The shifting of the three runs met with stiff resistance from NBA activists who alleged that the state government had desecrated the Father of the Nation by shifting the memorial without the knowledge of local residents and by not following the proper procedure of shifting it. Police had to use mild force to disperse the NBA activists protesting the shifting.
“The piece of land allocated for relocating the memorial has been used partly for building houses for people affected by another dam project,” Patkar alleged.
The memorial was set up in Barwani district (350 km from Bhopal) in 1965 by Gandhian Kashinath Trivedi, who had brought the ashes in urns there. The place was named Rajghat on lines of Gandhi's samadhi at Rajghat in the national capital.
The rehabilitation of people affected by the dam has become a major political issue in the state. Congress MLAs had protested outside the state Assembly in Bhopal on Wednesday, after the Speaker Dr Sitasaran Sharma rejected their demand to debate the issue in the House through an adjournment motion. Later, the Assembly was adjourned sine die on Wednesday.