DECCAN HERALD Friday, December 24, 1999

Former chief justice of India, Mr M N Venkatachalaiah presenting
the ''M A Thomas National Human Rights Award-99`` to environmentalist
Medha Patkar in Bangalore on Thursday. DH photo

Medha Patkar pledges support to greens fighting against Cogentrix


Environmentalist Medha Patkar who has been leading Narmada Bachawat Andolana today pledged her support to the environmentalists` fight against Mangalore Power Project of Cogentrix.

Speaking after receiving the M A Thomas National Human Rights Award-1999, Ms Patkar branded both Cogentrix and Enron, as ''criminal and corrupt multinationals with which no civil society shall enter into any contracts``.

Ms Patkar said it was unfortunate that the people, even the urban enlightened ones, did not get to know the details of the memorandums of understanding and power purchase agreements which most of the multinational companies entered into with the Governments. ''The community should have the right to know the project and right to say yes or no``.

She said there was need for launching a gigantic movement for human cause not only against the governments but also against the multinational companies which were taking up the projects without considering their impact on human being living in the country but for their own benefit.

Ms Patkar said that natural resources in country was not considered as capital for planning. And in the planning agriculture, environment and other factors affected were not taken care of. Rehabilitation of the displaced people was totally neglected. She said proper rehabilitation of the evacuees under the Koyna dam project, the first one to be implemented in Krishna basin in Maharashtra, still remained a distant dream. One can only imagine what would happen to those displaced under the Almatti project. Now everyone was talking about the height of the dam, but not about the the people displaced under the project, she said. Making a strong case against setting up big dams, Ms Patkar reiterated her stand that the big dams always benefited the rich more than the poor who make all sacrifices for the construction of the dam.

Ms Patkar who was recently pulled up by the Supreme Court for her comments about its interim judgement on the issue of Sardar Sarovar Dam height said ''we have high hopes on judiciary, but sometimes our experience would be different``. She said now she was waiting for the final judgement on the issue, but not from the court but from the people.

She said ''Vision 2000`` will be launched near Narmada Valley on December 30 and 31 to assess the judgement of the people.

AWARD: Earlier, the award instituted by the Vigil India Movement was presented to her by former Chief Justice of India M N Venkatachalaiah. ''It is a symbolic gesture bestowed on those who fight for the human cause``, Ms Patkar said after receiving the award.

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