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Narmada oustees won’t end stir - [20/04/99] - The Hindustan Times
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Tuesday, April 20, 1999, New Delhi
 

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Narmada oustees won’t end stir
Bhopal, April 19 (Abhilash Khandekar)

Even as the Narmada Bachao Andolan continues its indefinite hunger strike in Bhopal demanding the scrapping of the construction of the dam across the Narmada river, including Maheshwar project of the S. Kumar's, the company has issued a statement claiming that it has the best R&R plans for the dam oustees.

A spokesman for Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Ltd (SMHPCL) said that the new ‘Jalud village’ is going to be a model village being set up by a project which is unique in many ways and has certain “path breaking” attributes.

According to the spokesman the project is the first of its kind to have earmarked Rs 180 crore for the rehabilitation of 22 affected villages of the Khargone district. Jalud is the first village to be submerged.

The plan has been worked out by the Government, S. Kumar’s and the local people, the company said, adding that besides offering an option of land for land monetary compensation, land was also being given to encroachers. “Every adult son or daughter would be given an additional free plot of land measuring 5,400 sq ft each for residential purpose.”

The R&R programme to be completed a year before the reservoir is filled, includes settling people along their caste pattern to maintain the community and social structure.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Digvijay Singh’s appeal to call off the agitation has fallen on the deaf ears of the resolute Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leaders and the dams-affected people who striking for the past 10 days. The NBA’s indefinite hunger strike entered 9th day today and their talks with the Chief Minister have failed.

Hundreds of peasants, dam-affected people, including a large number of poor, tribal women, are sitting in a dharna in the busy city area of the State capital. Mr Singh agreed to publish a status paper on the proposed and on-going Narmada valley development projects. He said that the status paper would have details about utility, benefits, costs of the Narmada Valley projects, effect on submergence areas and benefits to the State after their completion.

During the talks, the Government agreed to draw a time-bound programme for the Bargi dam project and to bring down the level of reservoir up to 418 metres by December 15 every year.

However, NBA spokesman Alok Agarwal said in a statement that the NBA has been stressing the need to review the entire project in view of the drastic change in the situation, including number of beneficiaries and the cost escalation of the dam projects.

“We are convinced that the power produced from these dam projects would be exorbitantly costly and beyond the reach of the common people”, he said demanding scrapping of the projects. He said that since they did not get a satisfactory answer from the Chief Minister, they were intensifying their agitation.


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