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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Germany urged to say no to Siemens demand

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Wednesday, July 05, 2000


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Germany urged to say no to Siemens demand

By Our Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL, JULY 4. The Narmada Bachao Anbdolan (NBA) has urged the German Government to ``finally and decisively'' refuse the Hermes export guarantee sought by Siemens for the Maheshwar Project in Madhya Pradesh keeping in view the report on the social and environmental viability of this project prepared by a special committee set up by the German Development Ministry.

NBA has also urged the Government of India as well as the Government of Madhya Pradesh to take cognisance of this report and immediately scrap the Maheshwar Project.

Raising these demands at a press conference here today, Mr. Alok Agrawal of NBA said that the German Development Ministry's report, which was made public last week has severely indicted the social and environmental viability of the Maheshwar Project and found that the rehabilitation of thousands of affected families is impossible.

The Maheshwar Hydro-electric Project is a big dam under construction on the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh. A team of three internationally renowned experts was commissioned by the German Development Ministry in May-June this year to assess the ground realities in the project impact zone in order to take a decision on the Siemens application for a Hermes export credit guarantee for the Maheshwar Project.

NBA has said that the German Development Ministry's report has exposed the fundamental and irreparable flaws in the Maheshwar Project and the complete impossibility of any fair and just resettlement and rehabilitation of the affected people. The report has confirmed the issues being raised by the three-year old struggle of the local people which is continued in the face of governmental apathy and police repression, asserts NBA.

Quoting from the report, which says that despite the fact that the project is already under construction, even the most preliminary demographic and socio-economic data about the impacts is totally unavailable.

The report says ``significant uncertainty exists about the amount of land to be seriously affected by the project and there are no apparent plans by the authorities to remedy the problem.''

The NBA spokesperson told newsmen that the numbers of such families living on activities like sand quarrying, fishing, and draw down agriculture whose livelihoods will be affected by the Project is estimated around 8000 families.

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