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Medha protests raising dam height

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 11:13 IST
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NARMADA BACHAO Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar has said that Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh should not allow Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) dam wall gates to be raised up to 138.68 meters until two lakh people in the affected regions are rehabilitated. Raising the height of the gates would render people homeless, she said.

Talking to newspersons at Visarjan Ashram here on Thursday evening, Medha Patkar said that failure of the rehabilitation policy had been proved by the fact that the irrigation and power generation facilities that were to be made available at the dam height of 92 meters are yet to be made available even when the height is 120 meters.

“At Jamnagar in Saurashtra, the dam water was first supplied to Ambanis (Reliance Industry) who have bought 10,000 acres of land there while the farmers were left in a helpless situation. So the dam facilities are mainly for the rich and not the poor. One example is SSP-generated electricity, which will cost Rs 4 per unit. Who will purchase such an expensive commodity? Obviously, the industrialists,” she remarked.

She said SPP-affected tribal Kailash Awasya has filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against heads of the agencies looking after rehabilitation including Narmada Control Authority for violating the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award between 1991-2005. Incidentally, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has dedicated SSP turbines to the nation and not the dam, she informed.

To a query on country’s 100 notified SEZs, she said that her organisation was against acquisition of farmland for multinationals and seashores for hoteliers and real estate developers. This would deprive farmers and fishermen of their source of livelihood, she said.

“In fact, the corporate sector is looting the country. Their motto is ‘we should get what we want even if the nation’s interest is at stake’.

These industrialists are free to sell SEZ lands to foreigners. So there will be deemed foreign territories in India. Our freedom struggle will have no value. The government is giving concessions to SEZ industrialists in 21 taxes, but is reluctant to provide subsidies to farmers. Are concessions meant for the rich or the poor?” she asked.

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