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Tuesday 1 February 2000

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Ahmedabad
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Vyas flays Digvijay's `cruel joke'

GANDHINAGAR: State Narmada development minister Jay Narayan Vyas stoutly defended the Narmada dam's height at 455 ft, saying it had been fixed by the tribunal appointed by the Centre after it had made a thorough study of the project's technical aspects and issues raised by the concerned states.

He described Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh's statement at the Kankaria public meeting in Ahmedabad on Sunday as a "cruel joke on the people of Gujarat for whom the Narmada project was a lifeline".

The minister made a scathing attack on Madhya Pradesh for not implementing the agreement reached at a meeting convened by the then prime minister H D Deve Gowda under which Gujarat had agreed to a height of 436 feet with a condition that the final decision should be taken on the basis of the flow of water into the dam in five years.

"It was unfortunate that the Madhya Pradesh chief minister has, instead of executing the agreement signed on July 15,1996, resorted to an anti-Gujarat campaign and that too at a public meeting."

Vyas said Singh should not been oblivious of the parameters fixed by the tribunal and the compromise. He said the height proposed for the dam was 490 feet initially, in order to facilitate the completion of the Narmada Sagar dam to be built in Madhya Pradesh, but in spite of this, Gujarat had accepted a height of 436 feet.

The minister said that if the Madhya Pradesh government would have given an undertaking on this height, the Narmada waters might have started flowing in the canal by now.

Vyas alleged that Madhya Pradesh's continuous opposition in the resettlement and rehabilitation work had complicated the case further. It had provided fodder to environmentalists' agitation and had slowed down work on the project.

The minister maintained that both Maharashtra and Rajasthan were not opposed to the Narmada project and their stance was always positive as they were eagerly waiting for the Narmada waters to flow.



The Economic Times


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