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Tehri project -- VHP joins protests
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Saturday, March 31, 2001

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Tehri project -- VHP joins protests

DEHRA DUN, MARCH 30: Braving rains and chilly winds, an estimated 2,000 of the people displaced by the Tehri hydro-electric project today began an indefinite dharna at the dam site in Tehri Garhwal in protest against the closure of two tunnels from tomorrow. The protestors were demanding full and final settlement of their claims.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Ashok Singhal also started a dharna against the closure of the tunnels, but for different reasons. Of late, the VHP leadership had started opposing the Tehri project on the ground that the river Ganga will be polluted if a dam is constructed over it and the closure of the tunnels will stop the flow of the river water downstream, ``hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus''.

However, project authorities and district administration maintained that the work on the project was not hampered. The Tehri project authorities had announced that the two tunnels used to divert water will be closed tomorrow to fill the reservoir as per the first phase of the multipurpose project, submerging the old Tehri town. Led by BJP legislator Lakhi Ram Joshi, the protestors threatend to stop the project work unless all the displaced families were paid adequate compensation or were rehabilitated properly. Project authorities maintain that most of the affected families have already been paid compensation or given alternate land.

The construction of the controversial project has been delayed many times in the past and the cost has already crossed Rs 3,000 crore. Any delay now will mean further losses, state government officials said. Since Tehri is a Central Government project, state Power Minister Bhagat Singh Khishiyari hoped that the Union Government, in consultation with the VHP leadership, would be able to find an amicable solution to the issue.

Talking to mediapersons, Ashok Singhal said that the Prime Minister and the Union Power Minister had assured him yesterday during his meeting with them that a committee of experts will be formed soon to give suggestions on the scientific management of Ganga river.

The committee will give its report within three weeks, he added, but warned that that if nothing was done, the VHP would launch a nationwide agitation from April 12.

Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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