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The Hindu on : 'Kar seva' plan puts Gujarat Govt. in a fix

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Tuesday, November 23, 1999

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'Kar seva' plan puts Gujarat Govt. in a fix

By Manas Dasgupta

GANDHINAGAR, NOV. 22. The ``kar seva'' proposed by the Maharashtra Shetkari Sangathan in support of the Narmada dam project has put the Gujarat Government in a piquant situation. It fears that any agitation at the restricted site could lead to a further delay in implementation of the project.

It is also apprehensive that the agitation can prejudice its case pending before the Supreme Court, but is not in a position to openly oppose the pro-dam movement, for fear of being misunderstood by the people.

It is the first time that an organisation outside the State has come out openly in support of the Sardar Sarovar dam, but the State Government, instead of feeling pleased, has been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea and is unable to take a definite stand on the kar- seva issue.

As a way out, the Minister for Narmada Affairs, Mr. Jaynarayan Vyas, has appealed to the Shetkari Sangathan chief, Mr. Sharad Joshi, to ``review'' his decision to offer kar-seva from December 4 at the dam site in Kevadiya Colony in Broach district of Gujarat and to ``stay away'' from the restricted areas around the dam to avoid any confrontation with the law and order machinery.

``The Gujarat Government is happy over the support of Mr. Joshi and his organisation for early implementation of the Narmada dam project, but should not take any step at this stage that may create legal complications and give an opportunity to the opponents of the dam to cause further delay in the implementation of the project through the apex court,'' Mr. Vyas said.

Mr. Vyas also expressed the apprehension that the agitation might cause a division among the people of the State, who so far have supported the project irrespective of their caste, creed, profession and political affiliations. It is because the Sangathan has appealed only to the farming community to join the agitation, as delay in implementation of the project is causing more harm to farmers than any other section.

The court's critical references to the attitudes of the NBA leaders, Ms. Medha Patkar and Ms. Arundhati Roy, for their critical remarks on its interim judgment giving conditional clearance for an additional construction of eight metres, including the hump, of the main dam has created a favourable atmosphere for the State Government and it is no mood to let the advantage slip out of its hands particularly when the hearing is scheduled to resume on December 2.

Pointing out that the M.P. Government was creating the biggest hurdle in implementation of the project by refusing to cooperate in the rehabilitation of the likely project affected people, which was the main point of dispute raised by the NBA, Mr. Vyas felt that the Shetkari Sangathan should launch agitation against the M.P. Government to force it to co-operate on the issue.

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