DECCAN HERALD Wednesday, February 23, 2000

NBA to go on indefinite dharna at Maheshwar


The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has announced an indefinite dharna at the site of the 400 MW, Rs 2,200-crore Maheshwar Hydel power project on river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh. The dharna will begin on February 24 and thousands of project oustees will join the protest, Mr Alok Agarwal of the NBA told newspersons here today.

The decision, Mr Agarwal said, follows the ''farcical replies`` of the State government to the questions raised in a petition submitted by the jailed NBA activists. The activists were put behind bars after the organisation tried to ''take- over`` the site on Janunary 11. Celebrity author Arundhati Roy was among the arrested agitationists. The NBA has been demanding scrapping of the project on the ground that it would damage the environment, displace thousands of people and produce costly electricity.

Maheshwar is the first hydel power project in the country to be handed over to the private sector. The S Kumars` industrial house is building the project with equity participation from an American company.

Mr Agarwal demanded that as the project had violated the stipulations of the environmental and techno-economic clearance, both the permissions should be withdrawn by the Union Environment Ministry and the Central Electricity Authority. He said that the project would generate power at a cost of at least Rs 9 per unit.

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