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No new dams will be built in MP: Digvijay

The Times of India News Service

NEW DELHI: No new dams will be built in Madhya Pradesh after the three dams now under construction are completed, according to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

His assurance came at a session of the recently-concluded Second World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference held at The Hague, Netherlands. He found himself in the firing line of some of the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists there.

Noted author Arundhati Roy told him, ``There will come a time when you will have to take a stand.'' Then in a somewhat dramatic manner, she added, ``I urge you, Digvijay Singh, to hold on to your humanity and go down in history.''

This drew the chief minister's assurance on dams. However, he also said that the main task before his government was to see ``how best we can rehabilitate the dam oustees''. Like Gujarat and Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh too is facing the problem of rehabilitating the large number of people displaced because of the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada. The construction of the Maheshwar dam in the state has also evoked criticism from NBA.

Singh told Roy: ``I would urge you...You are a woman of stature ... there are other water conservation issues.'' Issues he described as ``constructive'' and for which he said he was willing to give her a watershed management programme in his state.

Earlier, observing that there was a ``pro-dam view and an anti-dam view,'' Singh said, ``I am somewhere in between.'' He said while MP had been seeking a reduction in the SSP dam height, he also supported the ``harnessing of natural resources for common good'' .

On the Maheshwar dam, Singh maintained, ``It will generate electricity with the least displacement of people.'' Rehabilitation of the dam oustees, he said, was an area of concern and ``we have been trying to do that''. His views on dams came in response to a question on how he planned to address the human tragedy which would unfold because of the Maheshwar dam and many large dams that would be built.

The Economic Times


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