Narmada activist calls for expat Indians' support

By Vinita Bharadwaj, Staff Reporter. Gulf News
Dubai: Indian activist Medha Patkar, best known for her involvement with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada) has called upon Indians abroad to show solidarity towards the cause by writing to the prime minister and senior politicians.
“Writing letters and signing petitions are considered traditional means of expression but they are still effective and the more numbers we have to show Delhi that the Narmada needs urgent attention and intervention, the better,” she said in a press conference.
Patkar was visiting Dubai as a guest of the Dubai Art Lovers’ Association (DALA) and was guest of honour at their Silver Jubilee celebration finale which took place on Friday.
Highlighting displacement issues in India, Patkar emphasised the need for people of Indian origin to play an important role in shaping India’s future.
“Critical decisions regarding development are being made at this point in India and Indians anywhere can help by taking an interest, understanding and writing in their views to editors of newspapers, bureaucrats and elected representatives in India,” she said.
The campaigner, who created international headlines earlier this year, by going on an indefinite hunger strike had expressed particular concern over this year’s monsoons in India. She said that about 18 villages were in grave danger of being submerged.
“Until recently we were not accepting money from any foreigners, however at a recent Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) meeting, we agreed that Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) would not fall under this as they are not foreigners and have every right to lend their support to causes back home,” the well-known activist added.
‘Court orders have not been carried out’
The Narmada Bachao Andolan or Save the Narmada Movement was founded by Medha Patkar and has been active for more than 20 years.
It has been crusading for the rights of people under threat of displacement by construction of the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada River connecting four Indian states.
A recent Supreme Court of India judgment allowed for the dam’s construction to continue. Patkar says that the relief and rehabilitation ordered by the court has not been completed nor has the dam’s objectives been reached.
There are a number of criticisms against Patkar, however, ranging from her possessing excess funds to preventing rehabilitation efforts to keep the movement alive. She has denied all these charges.
“I can show any reports and all transactions to anyone, anytime,” she said.

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