Dam work to continue: PM
The statement came after a delegation of 26 Gujarat MPs called on Manmohan to allow construction work on the dam to continue.india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 21:21 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought to defuse the rising tension on the Narmada dam controversy, with his spokesperson saying no decision has yet been taken to stop construction work at the Sardar Sarovar dam and nothing will be done against the Supreme Court’s order.
The statement came on Sunday after a delegation of 26 Gujarat MPs — led by BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley and Gujarat Congress chief Bharat Solanki — called on the PM to allow construction work on the dam to continue.
The PM’s move was seen as an attempt to cool down the situation after Saturday’s stalemate at the meeting of the review committee of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA). The chief ministers of three BJP-ruled states (Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh) had strongly opposed the Centre’s proposal to stop work on the project.
Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Environment and Forest Minister A. Raja and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had signed a resolution in favour of stopping work temporarily — until the rehabilitation of those displaced was carried out.
On Sunday, after meeting the PM, Jaitley said: “The Supreme Court has closed all arguments regarding construction of the dam and work on the project should not stop. We don’t want the work to be stopped under any circumstances. The PM appeared to agree with our plea.”
The PM’s “assurance” prompted the Gujarat Congress to call off the bandh in the state even as Chief Minister Narendra Modi started his 51-hour hunger strike in Ahmedabad, irked by the Water Resources Ministry’s stand on the issue. Joining Modi in the fast were several of his ministerial colleagues, legislators and party workers.
In his one-hour speech, Modi criticised the Centre for being “anti-Gujarat” and especially targeted Soz for his alleged “soft corner” for anti-dam activists.