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Express newline

Wednesday , January 12 , 2000
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No dam, no pipeline, says jalrakshak sangh


GANDHINAGAR, Jan 11: The Narmada Jalrakshak Sangh, a pro-dam body, will not allow the laying of a pipeline in Gujarat for the proposed Bharat-Oman refinery project at Beena in Madhya Pradesh until the Madhya Pradesh Government stops putting hurdles in the implementation of the Sardar Sarovar Project and withdraws cases filed by it in the Supreme Court against the dam.

A delegation of the Sangh's representatives, led by Swami Sachchidanad and senior Congress leader Urmilaben Patel, submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel here today. The memorandum, which contained signatures of about seven lakh people from all over the State, opposed the government's decision to allow laying of the Vadinar-Beena pipeline.

"The State Government has allowed the Bharat-Oman Refinery Limited (BORL) to lay the pipeline through Gujarat under political pressure from the Prime Minister Office (PMO). Had this not been done, Gujarat could have mounted enough pressure on Madhya Pradesh and forced it to extend all co-operation to Gujarat in implementing the dam project", former MP Urmilaben Patel told Express Newsline as she emerged, along with others, from the Chief Minister's office after submitting the memorandum.

She said the people of Gujarat would even go to the extent of disrupting work on the proposed BORL pipeline if Madhya Pradesh failed to cooperate.

"We hope the Gujarat Government will honour the people's sentiments and support our viewpoint unlike its stand against the kar seva programme launched recently under the able leadership of farm leader Sharad Joshi at the dam site", the former MP said.

The Sangh's delegation requested the Chief Minister to arrange a meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during his proposed visit to Gujarat on January 13 so as to enable them to hand over a memorandum to the PM on the contentious Narmada issue. Keshubhai assured the delegation that he would do this.

In the memorandum, the delegation demanded that the Madhya Pradesh Government drop its demands of reviewing the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal's verdict, reducing the dam height and constituting a new tribunal. Madhya Pradesh should also cooperate in rehabilitation work and resettle project-affected persons (PAPs) in that State. Besides, it should endorse Gujarat's proposal to construct a by-pass tunnel at the main canal head and immediately pay its dues to Gujarat towards its share on the expenditure on the dam project.

Responding to the Sangh's representation, the Chief Minister and Narmada Development Minister Jay Narayan Vyas said the Supreme Court would start hearing the Narmada dam case from February 4 and the government had started making all preparations to get justice from the apex court. "The government is ready to complete the construction of the dam upto 110 metres height by June 2000 if the SC gives a green light", Patel and Vyas told the delegation.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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