Kamal Nath sends emissary to hold talks with Medha Patkar over stir

An emissary of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath will be meeting social activist Medha Patkar to persuade her to end her nine-day-old hunger strike launched in Barwani district in support of demands related to the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Nath on Monday sent Sharad Chandra Behar, a former chief secretary of the state, to hold talks with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader, officials said. Patkar is on a hunger strike for the past nine days demanding that the sluice gates of the mega dam in adjoining Gujarat be opened as many villages, including those in Barwani district (near Gujarat border) in Madhya Pradesh, were being inundated with its (reservoirs) backwater. The 64-year-old activist is also seeking proper and speedy rehabilitation of those displaced by the dam project. Patkar, who was not allowing doctors to check her health till Sunday, relented in the wee hours of Monday and allowed them to examine her condition. Her blood pressure was 159\/89 and blood sugar 114, a government official said, preferring anonymity. Behar will hold talk with Patkar and urge her to end her protest, a media aide of the chief minister said. Veteran social worker and economist Rajendra Kothari, who is accompanying Behar, told PTI over the phone that they are expected to reach Barwani, around 300km from the state capital, by 8 pm. The development comes hours after MP Minister Vijay Laxmi Sadho, who is also Barwani guardian Minister, held talks with Patkar and but failed to persuade her to end the strike which is also seeing participation from local villagers. Sadho also facilitated telephonic talks between Patkar and Nath on Sunday night, but the former did not budge from her demands, sources said. In a press statement, Nath said the state government will make all efforts for opening the gates of the dam so that water level does not rise in the catchment area. Meanwhile, the water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Monday crossed the 135-metre mark, prompting Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to claim current storage was enough for drinking and irrigation purposes in the state for the next two years. The water level saw a rise of one metre since August 28 and currently stands at 135.02 metres, the highest since the height of the dam was raised to 138 metres following the installation of gates in 2017. According to the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd control room, the dam is currently receiving 2.42 cusec (cubic feet per second) of water from upstream, of which 2.16 lakh cusec water is being released in the river downstream by opening 10 of the total 30 gates. Rupani had earlier indicated that the Gujarat government was planning to fill the dam to its full reservoir level of 138 metres. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the dam on the Narmada river at Kevadia in Gujarat in September 2017. Besides Gujarat, the mega dam, conceptualised nearly six decades ago, provides water and electricity to three other states – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.