HUNDREDS of people led by the Bagmati Sangharsh Morcha held a dharna at the Gayaghat Block HQ in the Bagmati river region on 14 September 2019. A memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was submitted to the BDO with the following demands: review committee formed in 2017 to look into the destructive Bagmati dam Project should be given more powers and made more speedy and active; dam construction and increase in height of embankment be suspended till the review committee submits its report; rehabilitation and compensation for the hundreds of families displaced due to the dam construction.
Addressing the dharna, renowned river expert Ranjiv Kumar said that instead damming the Baghmati River, its water should be used for irrigation and drinking purposes. The dam-affected area now measures 80 lakh hectares, thus making the project a curse rather than a boon. CPIML CC member Meena Tiwari said that the construction of the dam had resulted in huge displacement, loss of lives, property, crops and agricultural land, but the government is concerned only with giving profits to corporate houses, politicians, contractors and bureaucrats. Bagmati Sangharsh Morcha convener Jitendra Yadav said that the government has given the Review Committee no teeth and no powers and has decided to increase the height of the dam without consulting the Review Committee. This is a betrayal of lakhs of people living in the Bagmati region, and if the government does not heed the demands of the people and give proper rehabilitation and compensation, the agitation will be stronger. The All India Kisan Mahasabha supported the Bagmati Sangharsh Morcha’s struggle and stressed on rehabilitation and compensation and the demand to declare the area a drought-affected region.