Maheshwar power project: Masses rise against people's movement
BHOPAL, May 4
The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), locked in battle with the
Madhya Pradesh Government and the S. Kumar's group over the
construction of a dam in the Khargone district, has a new
challenge to deal with.
The famous peoples' movement is being advised by a massive
group of people from Khargone areas to eschew violence and
confrontation to help maintain peace.
In an unprecedented move, as many as 25,000 people from
different walks of life, including noted social workers, freedom
fighters panchayat representatives, farmers, voluntary
organisations, students, women, poets and journalists have
appealed to the Narmada Bachao Andolan leaders to adopt a
conciliatory approach instead of confrontation, which is
destroying peace in the area.
The NBA has been opposing the construction of a dam for the
Maheshwar hydro-power project in the Khargone district by the
S. Kumar's group, known to be close to Chief Minister Digvijay
Singh. Earlier this year, a large number of NBA supporters had
captured the dam by laying sedge around the construction site.
The seige had lasted for more than a fortnight after which the
government announced setting up of a task force to review all the
Narmada Valley projects, including Maheshwar.
However, since the suspended civil work at the dam site
restarted in March, the NBA held a massive rally last month. The
rally turned violent with the district administration using force and
rounding up close to 800 900 NBA activists. The NBA charged
that Chief Minister Digvijay Singh had come back on his words
and ordered to restart the work on the dam's wall under pressure
from the S. Kumar's.
On the forefront of the people's group is one of the most revered
social workers of Khargone's Niwali village, Ms Kantaben Tyagi
who has recently been conferred the Padmashree. The Nimar
Paryavaran Bachao Sangathan, the Kasturba Gandhi Sewa
Trust, Umesh Goswami of Nimar Sarvodaya Manch, famous
Nimari Singer Tarachand Yadav and a number of Panchayati
institutions' representatives have signed the appeal. The appeal,
however, does not mention the dam at all.
"In the larger public interest, we are constrained to oppose the
Narmada Bachao Andolan which is drifting from its aim and is
breaking peace of the area", the appeal said.
The people of Nimar hoped that the NBA would ensure that
peace was maintained in Mandleshwar and other areas of
Khargone and the course of confrontation would be given up, the