VADODARA, OCT 12: The pro-dam lobby has planned a massive kar seva in Kevadia Colony from November 15 to dig a bypass tunnel, a provision in the Tribunal Award, to address the needs of drought-prone villages of Gujarat. This is seen as a move to offset the anti-dam lobby, which is gaining ground following representations by various voluntary organisations to the President.
Former chairman of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) Sanat Mehta told The Indian Express on Monday that an estimated one lakh people from Gujarat and Maharashtra were expected to take part in the kar seva.
At a recent meeting, farmers' leader Sharad Joshi, president of Gujarat Khedut Samaj Bipin Patel, president of NGO Setu Raghavji Raiyani and Mehta held preliminary discussions for the kar seva.
Mehta said the tribunal had a provision to dig a bypass tunnel when the height of the dam reaches 88 metres. "Now that the Supreme Court has given permission to raise the SSP height to 88 metres,including the three-metre hump, it is time that the bypass tunnel is dug," the former SSNNL chairman said.
According to highly-placed sources, the State Government cannot start digging the tunnel as Madhya Pradesh, a participatory State in the massive project, has put up a contention that the tunnel could be dug only if the height of the dam is lowered.
Mehta said the tunnel solves two purposes - if there is less rainfall and the water-level in the reservoir decreases, water could be drawn from below that certain level and the tunnel could also be used to draw the excess water which overflows in the sea during monsoon.
Mehta said according to estimates, 22 million acre feet water had drained off into the sea this year. This, he said, could address the drinking water requirements of 5,000 persons for 15 years. The Tribunal has identified the villages where these facility have to be extended.
Mehta said the tunnel has to start from the dam site and linked to the main canal. "However, since there iswater at the dam site, the kar seva can only be performed at the main canal," he said.
While organisations in Gujarat, including the Gujarat Khedut Samaj and Setu, are expected to muster a strength of 50,000 people for the rally, Joshi is expected to bring in another 50,000 people.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.