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The Hindu on : 'Save protesting volunteers'

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Friday, July 23, 1999

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'Save protesting volunteers'

By Kalpana Sharma

MUMBAI, JULY 22. Another prominent personality has decided to draw attention to the demands being made by Ms. Medha Patkar and others of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) who are on a satyagraha in villages scheduled to be submerged this monsoon in the upper catchment of the Narmada river. The former Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral L. Ramdas, and Mrs. Lalita Ramdas, have sent a letter to the President, Mr. K. R. Narayanan, with an SOS ``to intervene and save the many members of the NBA including Ms. Medha Patkar, whose submersion seems imminent.''

Admiral Ramdas has appealed to the President to order a halt to further construction on the Sardar Sarovar dam. At present, the dam height stands at 85 metres, after the Supreme Court, before which the case filed by the NBA is being heard, allowed construction up to that height.

The Gujarat Government and the Sardar Sarovar Nigam Limited have appealed to the court to permit construction up to 90 metres, claiming that they are prepared to resettle all those families that will be affected at this height.

Asking for an inquiry into the ``plight of those that the project is driving into destitution'', Admiral Ramdas states that on this issue, ``legalese must give way to considerations which are humanitarian.''

The former-Naval Chief ends his letter to the President thus: ``It is a sad commentary on our priorities as a nation that while we have been united in our support to the brave jawans fighting on the barren slopes of Kargil, we are unwilling and unable to muster even a modicum of concern for other fighters who have also been waging a different kind of war, a just war, to conserve and preserve their lands, their homes, their way of life and the forests of this same Bharat Mata.''

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