As Modi Prays at Sardar Sarovar Dam, Its Waters Flood 178 Villages

Residents of over 178 villages in Madhya Pradesh risk losing their homes due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam project.

2 min read

Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered prayers to ‘Maa’ Narmada at the Sardar Sarovar Dam site in Gujarat on Tuesday, 17 September, to celebrate the dam reaching its full reservoir level (FRL) of 138.68 metres for the first time.

But for the 178 villages located in Madhya Pradesh’s Narmada valley, this in anything but celebratory. Over 32,000 families in the area face submergence and have been left ignored, say the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists.

The floodgates of SSD were closed in June 2017, 56 years after the foundation stone of the project was laid by the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Since August 2019, as the water levels kept rising, the NBA has organised several protests, demanding that the gates of the dam be opened immediately given that its backwater has partially or fully flooded these villages.

“They don’t want to open the door and let the water flow off. The upstream dams, they are opening the gates and Sardar Sarovar Dam, at the end of the river, that’s closed and hence, water is rising in the villages. This would not have been a problem if the rehabilitation had been done.”
Joe Athialy, Activist

This is exactly what activist Medha Patkar, who has been leading the NBA for the last four decades, had warned about.

She, along with dam oustees, had launched a "fast-unto death" in Barwani in August, seeking that the dam's sluice gates be opened to stop its backwater submerging large areas in Madhya Pradesh.

The protest ended on the ninth day 2 on September after the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh promised to look into her main demands – relief and rehabilitation of the dam oustees and taking up the issue of the opening of the gates with its counterpart in BJP-ruled Gujarat.


While activists feel it is already too late to repair the damages, they say it is still possible to control the magnitude of the destruction.

"First and foremost, they should not fill the dam upto 139 meters. Second, today, they should open the dam gates. Third, and the most crucial one, please, please, please, implement your own orders. What the SC has said and what the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal says for resettlement and rehabilitation."
Madhuresh Kumar, Activist

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Topics:  Sardar Sarovar Dam 

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