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Three BJP chief ministers, 2000 Varanasi priests didn't attend Modi's Narmada dam birthday bash; it failed: NBA

By Our Representative
In a statement issued in the aftermath of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday bash, Medha Patkar, leader of the anti -dam movement Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), has said the "dedication of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) to the nation" on September 17 "was a complete failure", as the chief ministers of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh did not turn up for the grand ceremony.
Pointing out that only Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani came for the function even though it was announced that BJP ruled CMs of all four " project beneficiary" states would participate, Patkar, who along with other senior NBA activists issued the statement, said, "The 2,000 priests from Varanasi who were perform the grand aarti also didn’t turn up."
Calling it as the "victory of our struggles", NBA said, it decrees "this cruelty on his birthday, when 40,000 families are facing submergence in 192 villages and a town of Madhya Pradesh", adding, the ceremony is also a failure "since SSP remains incomplete, given that more than 50% of the canal networks is incomplete, so does the command area development, catchment area treatment and rehabilitation of the project affected families (PAFs) in three states."
"The failure can’t be hidden because BJP has been in power in Gujarat for close to two decades now. 41,000 KMs long canal network is to be completed for realising the full potential and Modi can’t blame it on the opposition", the statement said, adding, "The 56% electricity to Madhya Pradesh, even if it gets it, the question remains, does it need more electricity, and that too at the cost of destruction of 192 villages and 1 township?"
The statement reminds Modi of the history of the project when Jan Sangh challenged the dam when it was first proposed. In fact, it supported NBA in 1960s. "The claim that for 56 years the dam was stopped, we need to look at the history, since the foundation stone laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was not for the dam of today, it was for a much smaller dam of 162 feet height."
"The present dam, a result of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) award, is 455 feet i.e. 138.68 meters high, declared by the Tribunal after 10 years long enquiry into the serious conflict among 3 riparian states, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The dispute got settled only after the NWDT award, which till date hasn’t been fully complied with", it added.
"The dam, claimed to be the country’s highest dam or world’s second biggest dam, is only on the basis of the volume of concrete going into the Dam. It is one of the biggest, no doubt, and the decision on the same came in December 1979, the date of the Declaration of the Award, not in 1961 as claimed by Modi", the statement said.
"Even after the award the work work was conditional on clearance to it by the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, and completion of studies and plans on not less than eight critical aspects of the project, rehabilitation, flora and fauna, seismic risks, catchment area treatment, command area development, downstream impacts among others", it said.
"In the light of all these factual inaccuracies we can only say that, either they are ignorant or wilfully misleading the nation primarily for upcoming Gujarat elections", NBA said, adding, "Sardar Sarovar dam for us is a testimony to the resolve of the people of Narmada valley who have fought for more than three decades for justice, and also a monument of corruption, government’s apathy and complete disdain for the rule of law."
"Our struggle is also for the farmers of Gujarat, in whose name all the politics has been played over the years, since neither the canal networks has been completed nor the water is being given to the farmers or those on Kutch. The water is being diverted for Coca Cola and car factories and also for the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)", the statement said.

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