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The Hindu on : Gujarat MPs write to President on SSP

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Sunday, December 24, 2000

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Gujarat MPs write to President on SSP

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, DEC. 23. Reacting to the President, Mr. K.R. Narayanan's remarks in the context of the Narmada dam, that ``the impact of dams should not be ruinous to the lives of tribals inhabiting forests and river valleys'', some members of Parliament from the State have submitted a memorandum to him to apprise him of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP).

The President had spoken up for the dam oustees at a function to felicitate Baba Amte here on December 6.

The Gujarat memorandum predominantly rubbishes the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and cautions him against ``entertaining presentations and delegations of such an organisation'', which would give wrong signals to people.

``Should any persons who show scant regard for the highest court of the land be allowed audience with the highest and final constitutional authority of the land?''the memorandum asks.

It not only questions the President's judgment - as a final constitutional authority in a democracy - in entertaining the NBA but also advises him against giving any attention to the latter.

It advises Mr. Narayanan to call for a probe into NBA's ``credentials and motives''.

Political representatives, of a State which is desperately seeking foreign funds for building the Narmada dam and several other projects, question NBA's funding support reiterating the oft-repeated allegation that anti-dam organisations based in Western countries were behind the NBA- raised issues of displacement and environment.

Yet the memorandum seeks to convey that the SSP would arrest ecological degradation in Barmer, Jhalore, Kutch and the little Ran to Kutch where desert was advancing due to lack of local water resources and scanty rainfall.

The memorandum tells Mr. Narayanan that on a writ petition filed by the NBA, the Supreme Court had, by majority judgment, upheld the tribunal's award.

Permitting the construction of the dam, the Court has stipulated strict compliance (by the concerned States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan) with pari passu (simultaneous) rehabilitation and environmental steps. (But whether it was being implemented or not is not mentioned in the memorandum.)

``Such a balanced judgment should set at rest all doubts and apprehensions in the matter. But the NBA instead of accepting the judgment is indulging on pressure tactics,'' the memorandum said. It was signed by 24 MPs, with 12 spaces left blank.

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