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Gujarat reacts sharply to State on Narmada panel
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Sunday, January 7, 2001

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Gujarat reacts sharply to State on Narmada panel

GANDHINAGAR, JAN 6: The Gujarat Government has reacted sharply to Maharashtra's decision to set up two separate committees, one to ascertain real gains to the neighbouring State after completion of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) and the other to look into the rehabilitation of the SSP oustees.

While Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel reported called up his Maharashtra counterpart Vilasrao Deshmukh on Friday and expressed his concern over the Maharashtra Government's decision on Thursday to set up the two panels, apparently at the behest of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar.

Sources told The Indian Express here this evening that Keshubhai cautioned the Maharashtra Chief Minister ``not to play into the hands of the anti-Narmada lobby'' and sought the latter's co-operation in the speedy implementation of the multi-crore Sardar Sarovar dam project which would not only benefit Gujarat, but also the other three participatory States of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The sources said the CMO had sought the minutes, from the Maharashtra Government, of a meeting between Deshmukh and the NBA delegation, led by Patkar in Mumbai on Thursday, where the decision to set up the two panels was reportedly taken. ``We are waiting for a copy of the minutes from the Mahrashtra Government, and will further react after receiving the same,'' the sources added.

Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Chairman Bhupendrasinh Chudasma, who was in Delhi on Friday, drew the attention of Union Water Resources Minister Arjun Charan Shethy to the Mahrashtra Government's decision to constitute the two committees, which the chairman dubbed as ``unwarranted.'' Gujarat Chief Secretary L N S Mukundan also spoke to his Maharashtra counterpart and inquired about what had actually prompted the latter's government to announce the formation of the committees.

Later in a statement released here late in the evening, Chudasma mounted a blistering attack on Medha Patkar for her expressing apprehesnions over whether Maharashtra would get 27 per cent of the power share following completion of the SSP. ``Patkar is making a futile bid to stall the dam project by casting her aspersions on this aspect of the project,'' he charged.

Reacting to the committee set up by Mahrashtra to look into the rehabilitation aspect, the SSNNL chairman maintained that Gujarat, Mahrashtra and Madhya Pradesh had already worked out a time-bound programme to resettle the project-affected people in their respective States and they are bound to implement the same as directed by the Supreme Court. He, however, appreciated Deshmukh's statement on the Maharashtra Government's commitment on early completion of the SSP.

Meanwhile, SSNNL managing director K C Kapoor said that of the total 1,450 MW of power to be generated through the hydel unit of the SSP, Madhya Pradesh would get the maximum of 57 per cent power share, followed by Maharashtra (27 per cent ) and Gujarat (16 per cent). The 27 per cent power share (about 400 MWs) for Maharashtra means the avoiding of Rs 2,000 crore of investment which the neighbouring State would have required to set up a unit to generate that much power, Kapoor said.

Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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