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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Demo against HUDCO finance for project

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Thursday, October 05, 2000


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Demo against HUDCO finance for project

By Our Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL, OCT. 4. The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), campaigning against the Maheshwar Hydro-electric Project being built on the Narmada, today held a prolonged sit-in demonstration at the HUDCO office here to oppose any move by this public sector financial institution to invest in this project.

The NBA demonstration, in which about 200 affected villagers took part, was led by the NBA leaders, Ms. Chittaroopa Palit and Mr. Alok Agrawal, as well as the vice-president of the Maheshwar Janapad Panchayat, Ms. Kalabai Patidar.

The NBA activists were particularly angry since no HUDCO officer was present to give them a hearing when they barged into the office premises at around 11.30 am.

Later this afternoon, police sources informed The Hindu that NBA activists could contact top HUDCO bosses who agreed to form a team to coordinate with the NBA and review the situation before taking any final decision regarding investment. At the time of filing this report, the NBA activists were preparing to call off their protest.

Addressing newsmen this morning, the NBA leader, Mr. Alok Agrawal said the people of the Narmada valley expressed their complete outrage in light of the fact that this project will produce prohibitively expensive electricity and that no cultivable land exists for the rehabilitation of the affected people. So, HUDCO should re-consider investing in this project.

It is clear, Mr. Agrawal said, that in the absence of providing cultivable land and livelihood, any infrastructure construction can only support the creation of colonies of unemployed people rendered resourceless after submergence, masquerading as rehabilitation.

Mr. Agrawal said the people affected by the Maheshwar Project and their supporters all over the country challenge financial institutions such as HUDCO, IFCI, IDBI, LIC, GIC, SBI, and other banks that are considering investment in the project to establish that this project is in public interest, financially viable and that the rehabilitation of the affected people and the land-based restoration of the their livelihood is possible.

It may be recalled, Mr. Agrawal said, that in the face of the determined struggle of the affected people in the last four years, several power utilities from the U.S. and Germany have withdrawn from this project. With the Siemens withdrawing its application for an export guarantee from the German Government last month, a Rs. 530 crore tied loan to the Maheshwar Project from the private German bank - HypoVereinsbank - fell through.

The project promoters are now trying to raise the investment required for this project by patchworking funds from several public sector financial and infrastructure institutions, he pointed out.

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