People protest

Anti-megadam protests reached a flashpoint on April 22, when thousands of people affected by the 400 MW Maheshwar hydropower project in Madhya Pradesh entered the dam site, breaching police barricades, and stalled construction work. The hydroproject is part of the Narmada Valley Development Project (NVDP).

About 5,000 people from villages took part in the protest, claimed a spokesperson for the Narmada Bachaoo Aandolan (NBA), which is campaigning against the construction of the dam. Through the day, the police arrested and removed hundreds of protesters. On the following day, another 800 persons dodged the police and occupied the dam site, prompting a lathi-charge. Over 2,000 people have been arrested, claims NBA spokesperson Sanjay Sanghvi.

NBA officials claim that the 35 m high Maheshwar hydropower project (MHP) will displace over 2,200 families in 61 villages. NVDP comprises of 30 major dams, 135 medium dams and 3,000 small dams. The project has invited strong protests among the displaced people, especially tribals. The World Bank has stopped funding the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) one of the biggest in the dams, citing serious lapses in its environment and rehabilitation aspects.

At the time of going to press, the protesters were on a sit-in protest outside the site of the dam.

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