Madhya Pradesh villagers displaced by Sardar Sarovar Dam wait in tin sheds for new life -Rohini Mohan
The Narmada has flowed into 178 villages since late August, after the dam blocked its path downstream in Gujarat
Chikalda disappeared last week. And with it, the houses of at least 1,366 families. As the water crept in, the village in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh emptied out in mid-September. What would you take with you with the water lapping at your waist? Chikalda’s men and women grabbed children, documents, sacks of dal, school bags, buffaloes and cows, and waded out. In three days, their homes had crumbled, then dissolved — single-storied, multi-storied, swanky with marble floors, 100-year-old inheritances, shops stacked with tractor engines or reams of woven cotton, now all sediment.
A week later, you could only enter Chikalda by boat. The Narmada river water was at door’s height, sometimes higher, touching the underside of first-floor balconies. Only five cats remained, hungry and wet. Nature was taking over — kingfishers and egrets perched on the panchayat’s neem tree, fish and frogs swam in bedrooms. The temple’s dome and the mosque’s minaret still poked out, but most worshippers are joining their hands together in government offices now.
Chikalda is one of the 178 villages that the Narmada has flowed into since late August, when the Sardar Sarovar dam blocked its path downstream in Gujarat. The river originates and largely flows in Madhya Pradesh, and when it could not move forward, it expanded sideways into villages, fields and markets. Some villages have entirely gone under, many are partially submerged and rapidly collapsing, others have become islands.
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