Tag Archives: Narmada River

Statue of Unity: Gujarat Villagers Wrote Open Letter to Protest PM Modi’s Visit


By T. V. Antony Raj


The Statue of Unity (Credit: https://www.livemint.com)


The 182 metres Statue of Unity, a memorial to Sardar Patel, is situated on Sandhu island of Narmada river, an islet in Kevadiya and is touted as the world’s tallest statue. This statue was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 143rd birth anniversary of freedom fighter and India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The statue, constructed at a cost of Rs 2,989 crore, is now the world’s tallest and twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York.

But, do you know the sarpanches (headmen) of 22 villages situated near the Sardar Sarovar Dam, in an open letter having common content, addressed to Modi, wrote that he was not a welcome guest?

These forests, rivers, waterfalls, land and agriculture supported us for generations. We survived on them. But, everything is being destroyed now and celebrations are also planned. Don’t you think its akin to celebrating someone’s death? We feel so.  We, villagers, want to tell you with extreme grief that we will not welcome you on October 31, 2018; Even if you come here like an unwanted guest, you are not welcome here.

The sarpanches alleged that people’s hard-earned money is being wasted on projects like the Statue of Unity even though several villages of the area are still deprived of basic facilities like schools, hospitals and drinking water.

“If Sardar Patel could see the mass destruction of natural resources and injustice done to us, he would cry. When we are raising our issues, we are persecuted by the police. Why you are not ready to listen to our plight?” the letter said.

Also,  the local tribal leaders announced a boycott of the inauguration of the Statue of Unity on October 31, 2018, citing the destruction of natural resources due to the memorial?

During the month of October 2018, tribal activists had announced that people living in 72 villages near the dam will join the protest on October 31, 2018, by not cooking food.

Tribal leader Anand Mazgaokar said, “We have also urged tribals of the eastern belt of Gujarat, from Dang till Ambaji, to join our protest by observing bandh that day. We are confident that the entire tribal population will stand up against the injustice.”


Following the protest ahead of Statue of Unity’s unveiling, in which several Ekta Yatra posters with photos of the PM and Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani were damaged, new ones featuring tribal leader Birsa Munda were put up on way to the statue. Police have been deployed to protect these. (Photo: Bhupendra Rana)


Meanwhile, unidentified persons tore and defaced posters of Modi and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in several parts of the district a few days before the inauguration. Citing these incidents, Mazgaokar said, “It happened because locals are angry. No one provoked them. We have only given a call for bandh.”

New posters featuring tribal leader Birsa Munda were put up on way to the statue. Police have been deployed to protect these.

By the way, the Statue of Unity is open to the public from November 1, 2018, on all days of the week from 9 am to 6 pm.

Entry is free for toddlers below the age of 3, and for all others, tickets are priced at Rs 350 per person. It includes entry to the observation deck, valley of flowers, the Sardar Patel memorial, museum and audio-visual gallery, the Statue of Unity site and Sardar Sarovar dam.

There is a cheaper option as well. For a basic entry ticket, which includes a visit to the valley of flowers, the Sardar Patel memorial, museum and audio-visual gallery, the Statue of Unity site and Sardar Sarovar dam, adults are charged Rs 120. For children aged below 15, the ticket price is Rs 60.



Indian Villagers Stage Protest by Immersing Themselves in Water


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


The water level in the Omkareshwar dam has already risen to 190.5 meters. It has affected the crops in Ghogal, Kaamankheda and 30 other villages. People use boats to cross the river as foot bridges are now submerged.

According to the members of the ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’, the state government’s decision without rehabilitating people residing in low-lying villages violates the Supreme Court order, that states the villagers should be rehabilitated no less than six months before enforcing this sort of decision.

The health of the protestors is deteriorating, but the government so far has not offered any medical help. No one from the local administration has visited the protesters. The district-level authorities in their capacity have agreed to give in to some of their demands. However, these do not include their two main demands namely, reduce the water level of the dam to 189 meters, and proper implementation of the land for land compensation.

Latest news

Heavy rainfall has been reported across Madhya Pradesh over the last 24 hours. The Bhopal-Indore-Khandwa state highway is closed. The Narmada River is flowing above the danger level in Omkareshwar and Khandwa. The government has opened all the gates of the Omkareshwar dam to maintain steady water levels. This comes as a setback to 30 villages in Khandwa district that are already submerged.


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