Journey to save a river

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has started a 1,300-km yatra (journey) "to bind the valley together" against "destructive development". The yatra is an important step in the NBA's effort to augment the support of the people affected by dozens of dams under the Narmada Valley Development Project, even as negotiations with the government for a review of the project drags on.

The yatra, consisting of 60 activists from different parts of the country on jeeps and vans, began on October 27 from Amar Khantak in Shahdol district of eastern Madhya Pradesh and will end at Bharuch in Gujarat on November 6. It will cover villages affected by at least one of the eight major Narmada dam projects -- namely, Bargi, Tawa, Sukta, Omkareshwar, Narmada Sagar, Jobat, Barna and Sardar Sarovar. "A team of social workers and researchers will educate the people about the problems posed by large-scale development," says NBA spokesperson Himanshu Takkar. "It is, in fact, the Narmada Valley Destruction Project."

Meanwhile, the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) authorities' move to raise funds through a Rs 300 crore bond scheme has invited stiff protest from NBA. "The prospective investors are not being given correct information about the project or the estimated cost of the scheme," claims NBA leader Medha Patkar. She also criticised the television advertisements by SSP: "It is like selling soap." Patkar also urged the committee of experts "reviewing various aspects of the project" to visit the valley before finalising their report.

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