PM asked to ban entry of dam panel
NEW DELHI, Sept. 9
Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has sought Prime Minister
Atal Behari Vajpayee's intervention to prevent the entry of the
World Commission on Dams into India.
According to him, the Commission has no locus stand) and
consists of "self-appointed" group of individuals and anti-dam
lobbyists like Medha Patkar and L. C. Jain.
Mr Patel, who called on the Prime Minister this evening as a
follow up to his Sept. 3 and Aug. 24 plea on the issue, told
newspersons this afternoon that the Commission's visit later this
month, to conduct a public hearing on the Narmada project, could
have 'possible adverse implications'.
Narmada Project Minister J. N. Vyas, who conducted a major
part of the Press conference on behalf of the Chief Minister
alleged that the "intentions" of tee Commission were "suspect"
and aimed at "putting hurdles in our water resources projects like
the Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat, the Indira Sagar in
Madhya Pradesh and Tehri in UP."
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Patel charged that
Commission's decision to hold a public hearing at Bhopal was
"tantamount to undue interference and meddling into our
Virtually carrying out a crusade against the Commission's
proposed move, Mr Patel has sent off a two-page letter to all the
Chief Ministers on Sept. 3. The letter which apprised the CMs of
Gujarat's objections, states that the matter "should be of concern
to all of us".
It ended with the plea that they should also "take up the matter
appropriately with the Government of India."
Responding to queries on the subject, Mr Patel admitted that the
Madhya Pradesh Government, which has also been contacted,
has not yet responded to their communication.
The Commission, which after representation from the Chief
Secretary of Gujarat cancelled its Gujarat visit, is to visit Bhopal
on Sept. 21-22. In a fax message, the Commission's Secretary
General invited the Gujarat Government to participate in the
public hearing there.
Mr Patel claimed that the Government was against the
Commission's move essentially on four counts. His government
was in principle opposed to any such examination, he said.
The Commission's intention to gauge the public reaction on the
question of the Sardar Sarovar Dam through a public hearing
amounted to an assault on the sovereignty of the country.
Secondly, he questioned the timing of the Commission's visit
when the matter was at an 'advanced and a crucial stage" before
the Supreme Court.
Thirdly, it was against the manner in which the entire exercise
was being conducted. Instead of
declaring their intention to visit the states concerned, the
Commission should have interacted with the Central authorities
and sought data instead, he said.
Maintaining that the "Commission's formal and legal status is
quite nebulous," Mr Patel, in his letter to the Prime Minister also
complained that the Commission had flouted normal diplomatic
courtesy and conventions.
Fourthly, questioning the locus standi of the Commission, in his
letter to CMs, Mr Patel said: "As far as we are aware, the
Commission does not have an official or formal status nor has it
been constituted either by the international community or by an
To top it, it has as its members well-known anti-Narmada dam
activists Ms Medha Patkar and Mr L. C. Jain, he said, adding
that the Commission seems to have been hijacked by the
anti-Narmada dam lobby to serve their ulterior motive.