Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Three top Modi ministers had "virtually no role to play" in the decision to raise Narmada dam height: NBA

By Our Representative
Top social activist, Narmada Bachao Andolan’s Medha Patkar, fighting against the Narmada dam for decades, has alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “influenced” the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) “politically” to raise the Narmada dam’s height. She said, she was “shocked” that the decision of the NCA, the multi-state body authorized for all the decisions on the Narmada project, was taken “bypassing the three concerned Union ministers -- Uma Bharti (water resources), Thavaar Chand Gehlot (social justice and empowerment) and Prakash Javdekar (environment), all from Madhya Pradesh.”
Pointing out that these leaders “had virtually no role in decision making”, the NBA leader suggested to newspersons in Delhi, this became clear during their meeting of NBA representatives. “Uma Bharti directed NCA officials look into some of the issues pointed out by the NBA and review all the decisions in a participatory manner. Gehlot was wrongly briefed by officials that the recent decision was in compliance with the Supreme Court judgment, while the reality is diametrically opposite”, an NBA statement said.
Uma Bharati
The NBA’s two-day “chetavni dharna” came to an end at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi saw prominent leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the CPI-M, prominent lawyers, intellectuals and activists participating. “All of them warned the Prime Minister and the NDA government to undertake a serious review of the illegal decision to raise the height of the dam”, the NBA said, adding, the cost of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), of whose the dam was the most important component, has already been estimated at Rs 90,000 crore, even as submerging of 2.5 lakh people in the valley.
“In the name of Kutch and Saurashtra, Gujarat plans to dole out lakhs of hectares of command area land and water to the corporates and industries”, the statement said, adding, “A team of members of Parliament and distinguished citizens would visit the valley very soon, mostly before the beginning of the monsoon session, to raise the issues both within the country and also at every national fora.”
Talking with media, Yogendra Yadav of AAP condemned the “fast-track clearance approach of the Modi government in all matters and attempt to quell the voice of people's movements, which are actually trying to raise real people's issues in the country and challenge undemocratic decisions, as also loot of exchequer by massive corruption and corporate pandering”.
Javadekar
Yadav pointed out that the decision on the dam “indicative of the approach of Modi, which he would like to continue for five years. This means decisions would be towards destroying environment, suppressing the legitimate rights and voices of people.” He said the decision to raise the dam has been taken against the backdrop of Rs 1,000 crore judicial inquiry into resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) corruption in Madhya Pradesh.
National Campaign for People's Right to Information’s (NCPRI’s) Nikhil Dey condemned those ministers who call themselves deshbhakts but actually work against the interests of the people; “if acche din would come then it will for few people at the cost of bure din of millions of poor people”, he said, adding, “Time is not far away when they will rise against this tyranny.” Brinda Karat of the CPI-M challenged the “arbitrary and anti people” decisions of Modi.
Trade Union leader Gautam Mody supported the “struggle” and called for coming together of farmers, workers and industrial labour to challenge the corporate agenda and the time has come when every people's movement in the country have to start talking to each other1 and understand the deep rooted inter-linkages of the issues and tyranny of the political class.
In a symbolic move, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal and top Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan arrived at the protest. Kejriwal "expressed full solidarity with the struggle and promised that their party would raise the issues both inside the Parliament and also across the country”, the NBA statement said.

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