BHOPAL: American political activist, social critic and linguist Noam Chomsky has extended his support to the cause of thousands who are getting displaced due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam project in four districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Signing the petition started by former IIM-Kolkata professor and environmentalist Jayanta Bandopadhyay, Chomsky has joined hundreds of others from 29 countries, demanding justice from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project which is slated to be inaugurated by Modi himself in Gujarat on August 12.
The support from Chomsky to the cause of displaced population came on Saturday, the third day of indefinite fast by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and 12 project-affected people in Chikkalda village on the banks of river Narmada in MP’s Dhar district.
The petition says: “The Supreme Court order clearly states that resettlement and rehabilitation of the project affected people should be complete in all respects before any forcible displacement of villages is directed. Closing of the dam gates is de facto a method of forcible eviction and thus, not only barbaric act, but also disrespect of the court order.”
The petition demands a comprehensive re-survey of the project-affected people giving priority to rehabilitation first by following orders of the SC that no family be evicted sans rehabilitation. It also demands directions to the MP government to provide benefits to farmers as per the SC directive to ensure alternative livelihood and constitute a committee to assess the impact on environment, river and forests by submergence and also impact on river Narmada’s downstream flow.
In the petition, Chomsky has said that meeting the rightful demands of people is “essential to ensure the faith of people in non-violent, democratic and constitutional governance and struggle for their rights. I, on behalf of the people of Narmada valley now appeal to you (PM) for immediate attention and intervention to save the people threatened by submergence”.
The Supreme Court’s deadline for rehabilitating the population affected by increasing the dam height, resultant closing of dam gates and submergence of villages in four MP districts (Dhar, Alirajpur, Khargone and Barwani) ends on Monday, but still thousands of families are yet to be shifted to safer places and rehabilitated by local authorities adequately elsewhere.
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced on Saturday slew of sops, including registered ownership rights to displaced population at alternative sites, Rs 15 lakh compensation to each of the displaced family and Rs 5 lakh for building new houses at alternative sites.