NEW DELHI, OCT 1: The pro-Narmada dam activists have sought President K R Narayanan's intervention to thwart what they called `international movement' against big dams in India.
A 20-member delegation of the activists who called on the President here yesterday, alleged that there was an international movement against big dams sponsored by the international river network and some local counterparts of this anti-dam movement were working in India without realising that they were acting against national interest.
They said Sardar Sarovar dam was only alternative to acute drinking water shortage in Gujarat and Rajasthan and a humanitarian problem should not be overlooked while considering human rights of people.
The delegation headed by former Union Minister Y K Alagh and including representatives of NGOs from various parts of the country, said in a memorandum to the President that this year most parts of Gujarat were facing acute shortage of drinking water as late as in September and 113 dams andreservoirs in Saurashtra at present have less than ten per cent of their total storage capacity filled.
The failure of monsoons had resulted in severe drinking water crisis in major urban centres like Surendranagar, Rajkot, Jamanagar, Gondal, Jetpur, Dhoraji etc. Even Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar were facing water shortage.
On the other hand, the Narmada, which is the only perennial river in the state, was in spate and flowing above danger level at many places.
The memorandum said that besides drinking water shortage, in many areas people used water which contained salinity, fluoride, nitrite and other such dissolved salts higher than permissible limits. Moreover, women had to wait for hours every day even for a little drinking water.
The delegation invited President to visit Gujarat and see impact of monsoon failure and rehabilitation work of Narmada oustees.
The Sarovar dam rehabilitation package is the model for the draft national rehabilitation policy. It is mentioned by an independent researchinstitute annually and a committee under former retired Supreme Court judge P D Desai oversees grievances of 5,000 households.
The memorandum also said that the oustees, instead of making representations to the authority chaired by Justice Desai, were approaching the President in the matter.
It said that despite the matter being sub-judice and a quasi-judicial authority looking into the matter, there was an `orchestrated campaign' in the media.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.