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Discordant notes on Day II

SIMMERING DIFFERENCES boiled over on the concluding day of the Jal Sansad with RSS ideologue Govindacharya and Magsaysay Award winner Rajinder Singh voicing dissatisfaction over the conclave?s failure to address key issues.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 18:51 IST

Delegates: Jal Sansad failed to address vital issues
SIMMERING DIFFERENCES boiled over on the concluding day of the Jal Sansad with RSS ideologue Govindacharya and Magsaysay Award winner Rajinder Singh voicing dissatisfaction over the conclave’s failure to address key issues.

“The Sansad should not limit itself to scrutinising ongoing conservation attempts but also focus on unmet challenges,” Govindacharya declared. He listed the ‘controversial’ river-linking proposal, construction of colonies on the banks of the Ganga and the government’s predilection for massive dams as important issues that had gone un-addressed at the meet, organised by the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad at Abhay Prashal.

“Why should large dams be constructed when smaller ones serve the purpose equally well,” he demanded. Govindacharya was, however, forced to bring his speech to a peremptory end after State Planning Board vice-chairman Som Pal cut him short citing lack of time.

‘Rain catcher’ Rajinder Singh, too, bemoaned the two-day conclave’s ‘unfortunate’ failure to tackle water being treated as a ‘commodity’. Off stage, he was much more candid. “What exactly is water? Is it a natural resource to which universal access should be guaranteed? Or is it a means for the enrichment of a select few?

This is a question that neither the Parliament in Delhi nor the one here has been able to answer satisfactorily.” Indeed, Singh pointedly kept his hands down when moderator Som Pal asked delegates in favour of the proposals drawn up by the Jal Sansad to conserve water to raise their hands.

The two-day conclave finally concluded with an 8-point resolution calling for, among other things, community management of water resources, holistic approach towards conservation with requisite attention to forest and soil management and an appeal to every citizen for disciplined water usage.

State Planning Board vice-chairman Som Pal, RSS Sarkaryavahak Mohanrao Bhagwat, Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan leader Govindacharya, Kripa Prasad Singh and co-general secretary (Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram) and MAPCOST Director General Dr Mahesh Sharma were among those present at the meet.

The Jal Sansad was followed by a general meeting that witnessed participation by nearly 800 tribals from Jhabua district and the proceedings concluded with a cultural performance by the tribals.