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Thursday, November 4, 1999

Narmada kar seva may snowball

NANDINI OZA  
VADODARA, NOV 3: With Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh objecting to the proposed kar seva to dig an irrigation bypass tunnel near the Narmada main canal in the State, and the pro-dam activists still determined to go ahead with their plans, a confrontation seems inevitable.

Talking to The Indian Express over the telephone from Bhopal, Additional Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Ravindra Sharma said, ``Our Chief Minister has already written to the Gujarat Chief Minister that as the Narmada issue was in the Supreme Court it would be inappropriate to initiate such an action.''

The letter was written a few days ago after the pro-dam activists announced their programme to start work on November 15. They have since postponed the kar seva to December 4. Madhya Pradesh wants to link the digging of the bypass tunnel to its demand for lowering the Sardar Sarovar dam height.

The bypass tunnel would enable Narmada waters to reach the main canal even before the dam height reaches the proposed 110meters. Madhya Pradesh wants the height to be lowered to prevent submergence of fertile land in its territory and does not mind reduction in its share of power from the project.

While Sharma made it clear that they will raise the issue before the Supreme Court if the programme was carried out in Gujarat, back here, Narmada Development Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said he would not comment on the matter till the blueprint of the programme was ready.

About Singh's letter, Vyas, while dismissing the possibility of any confrontation with Madhya Pradesh, retorted, ``While giving permission for the `Rally for the Valley', did they not realise that the matter was in the Supreme Court.''

The organisers, too, are adamant. And this is despite the sources saying that they have been forced to postpone the programme for failure to muster up as much support as expected.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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