It's the 15th day of the Jal Satyagraha at Khandwa, 90 protesting farmers are not ready to call off what they call as their 'final struggle.' Farmers from Ghogal Aawan, Bilawa, Bada Kailawa, Sukaya, Kamankheda and other villages are protesting the state government's move to increase water-level in dams in the region that is resulting in gradual submergence of their farm land.
They claim that over 1,000 acres of land is already submerged and 60 villages are on the verge of submergence if water-level in Omkareshwar dam is increased further. One of the farmers, 60-year-old Girjabai shivers as she stands neck-deep in water. Her wrinkly palms and feet are narrating the tale of her deteriorating health. The old woman from Kamankheda village in the district, gasps for breath as she voices the angst of her fellow protesters. "The government better shoot us than giving us this watery grave," she says.
"The government does not want to see our woes. If the government officials do not visit the place, how will they understand our plight? Our very existence depends upon our farms. We live with our farms and we will die with our farms," says Girjabai. Five acres of her total nine-acre land is submerged in water. "Despite the Supreme Court instructions, the state government is not paying heed and is trying to undermine our struggle. All that we are seeking is compensation as per laws," she said.
Another protester in her sixties, Leelabai accused the government of raising the water-level despite knowing that they are standing neck-deep protesting in water. She said, "I have three children and all of them are illiterate and depend on farming. Where will they go if our land is grabbed?" Another protester, Sukhlabai is facing threat of submergence of every inch of her land. "The government fooled us. For a land worth in lakhs of rupees, it offered us a paltry sum," she said. Meanwhile, Khandwa district collector Neeraj Dubey visited the protesters and promised to look into the issue.