'Foreign hand' behind anti-dam protests: Vyas
SURAT: State Narmada development minister Jaynarayan Vyas on Sunday categorically spoke about a "foreign hand" being behind the anti-Narmada dam movement. Linking his theory with that of the country's economy opening up, Vyas stated that certain lobbies were keen to see that India does not attain self sufficiency either in agriculture or in hydel power.
"All big hydel projects in the country, whether Narmada or Tehri, are being targeted by these lobbies. There is something more to it than meets the eye," Vyas said while making a detailed audio-visual presentation about the Narmada project at the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI). According to him, the protest against the Narmada dam was to stall the country's prosperity and progress.
Taking a pot shot against the "environmentalists" by describing them as belonging to a "frequent fliers club", Vyas said that these people went around the world shouting hoarse against India and its development.
He said that while irrigation facilities had made the border areas of Haryana and Punjab prosperous, the same was not true for Rajasthan and Gujarat where the border areas were sparsely populated.
"Because of this, the borders areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan are being used for smuggling arms and explosives like RDX. Even the RDX used in the March 1993 Mumbai blasts had come from across these borders," he said, adding that there was a "hidden hand" behind this for if the Narmada project came up, the borders areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan would also become prosperous.
Vyas said in 1947, "we were surviving ship (because of the huge imports of food) to mouth. But now the country is the number one milk producer in the world and the number two fruits and vegetable producer in the world."
He pointed out that certain lobbies were interested in seeing that India does not achieve self-sufficiency. "Unlike the Southeast Asian tigers our country has shown immense resilience. Just think what can happen if we start getting hydel power," he said.
Union minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises Vallabh Kathiria, SGCCI president Amarnath Dora and president-elect Bharat Gandhi also spoke.