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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Singhal threatens fast against Tehri dam

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Saturday, March 24, 2001


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Singhal threatens fast against Tehri dam

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 23. Mr. Ashok Singhal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, has threatened to go on an indefinite fast by the month- end ``in defence of the Ganges'' and ``to protest against the Tehri dam.''

The point being made is that the Government has plans to block the waters of the Bhagirathi to fill the reservoir behind the 270-metre high dam. ``It is the water of the Bhagirathi which gives the Ganges its purity, and not the streams like the Alakananda. And if the Bhagirathi flow is stopped, Ganges will no longer be what it is,'' he said.

Swami Chinmayanand, another VHP star who is also a BJP MP, said that ``Mr. Singhal will not be alone when he fasts, many `sadhus' and `sants' (Hindu priests) will join him.''

Mr. Singhal said he brought this ``important matter'' to the notice of the Prime Minister, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and others. He blamed the bureaucracy for taking the decision to block the flow of the Bhagirathi. He stated that work on the dam, ``which will also increase the risk of earthquakes in the region'', has gathered speed over the last three years (which is since the Vajpayee Government was installed at the Centre). He did not want to blame the BJP leadership directly, instead he chose to attack the bureaucracy.

Although the VHP has only made a few noises about the Tehri dam earlier, Mr. Singhal claimed that the organisation has not just woken up when the project is nearing completion but had been protesting for the last 15 years.

The `dharam sansad' organised by the VHP at the recent Kumbh Mela in Allahabad had also passed a resolution on the subject opposing the Tehri dam.

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