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Medha Patkar calls for public debate with government on SSD-related issues

The delay in the completion of the dam was due to numerous reasons. Patkar-led NBA took the government to the Supreme Court over environmental and rehabilitation issues, and obtained a stay in 1996.

By: PTI | Nagpur |
September 27, 2017 8:13:01 pm
narmada bachao andolan news, medha patkar news, india news, indian express news Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar. (Source: PTI Photo)

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar on Wednesday challenged the government to come forward for a public debate on issues surrounding the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD). The Sardar Sarovar Dam was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Dabhoi in Gujarat’s Vadodara on September 17. The 138-metre dam became a reality 56 years after the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru laid its foundation on April 5, 1961.

Patkar, who is spearheading the movement to protect the interests of the people affected by the SSD, said the PM in his speech at Dabhoi, indirectly made a reference to the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), saying that he has knowledge (‘kacha chittha’) of everyone who tried to stall the project.

“We would like to give them (government) a challenge to come together on a common platform, which can be organised by a neutral or an unbiased organisation known for its work and understanding of water resource management and development,” she told media on sidelines of a function at Nagpur.

“Both the parties can be invited and we are ready to argue on various points as this kind of a public debate will bring transparency and accountability,” said Patkar.

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She said the Sardar Sarovar Dam as a model or symbol of development is seen from one angle by the government.

“We see the failure of SSD in satiating the thirst of Kutch and Saurashtra as well as in rehabilitating the people (affected by the dam) and compensating the natural resource losses,” Patkar said.

Accusing the government, she said, “The PM dedicated the dam to the nation. However, the water (from SSD) is being supplied to corporates like Adani, Ambani, Coco Cola.”

The people in the submerged areas in the three states — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra — are not rehabilitated and 41,000 km long micro canal network is also not completed, claimed Patkar.

The delay in the completion of the dam was due to numerous reasons. Patkar-led NBA took the government to the Supreme Court over environmental and rehabilitation issues, and obtained a stay in 1996.

The court allowed resumption of work in October 2000.

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