Jai ho !
The Jal Satyagraha by the villagers of Ghogalgaon village in Khandwa district (MP) is Unique in many senses.
1. 51 Villagers – who are actually affected by the raising of water level in the Omkarehswar dam on the Narmada River – stood in Neck-deep waters, which are submerging their livelihood – for 17 long Days, as a FIRST OF ITS KIND Non-violent Satyagraha.
2. The 17 days of Satyagraha - wasn’t merely lying down in Protest, on a well lit, well-protected stage. It was standing the CRAB BITES, insect bites etc in the river waters – for 17 long days. The protesters had also developed rashes with their skin peeling off after staying submerged for so long.
3. The Demand of the villagers was UNASSAILABLE. Implement our portion of the Supreme Court Order, rehabilitate us and save us first. Who can quarrel with this Demand? India – irrespective of which Government is in Power, is always failing in this one extremely sensitive, humane issue. The Mind-set of Governments must change. Rehabilitate the affected first. Do your development work next. This has to be the Mantra for all progress, for all works.
4. The Jal Satyagraha went on for 17 days – and would have perhaps gone on indefinitely – if the MP Chief Minister had not realized the folly of keeping silence on such an issue. So – it is not only Anna and Ram Dev – but there are many Satyagrahis in India – who can come up with perfect forms of Non-violent Protest. Mahatma Gandhi’s Soul lives on in this country in many human beings – except perhaps in the hearts of (many of) the Politicians where it should be, in the first instance.
MP Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday said - "We have agreed to bring down the water level of dam to 189 metres and to compensate the farmers' land. It will, however, affect irrigation in 20,000 hectares of land and generation of 120 megawatts electricity," said the Chief Minister.
"The Supreme Court had given the go ahead to increase the water level to 196.5 metres, but we have reduced it for the time being," he said. The MP government has also formed a three-member ministerial panel to look into the matter. Better late than Never. So, MP Government should still be appreciated. At least, there wasn’t a lathi charge in waters! No Police lock-up. No cases on the villagers. This is Un-like many other Governments. We do hope, MP Government will now take the rehabilitation steps with a large and humane heart.
However, it must also be said that - Narmada Bachao Andolan, which launched this Satyagraha, must keep track of the progress of rehabilitation of the Villagers; and also enable Government to finish the developmental works on the Indira Sagar Project on Narmada – which is important for the development of the state.
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