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Saturday 27 May 2000

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Ahmedabad
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Medha's organisation gets funds from abroad: Vyas

GANDHINAGAR: Narmada development minister Jay Narayan Vyas and Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam chairman Bhupendrasinh Chudasma on Friday warned Narmadao Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and other activists to refrain from criticising the project, particularly when the state government was fighting a grim battle on water crisis due to the drought in more than 9,000 villages.

Vyas regretted that NBA, that has no roots in India and was being assisted from foreign platforms, has no right whatsoever to challenge the project that was being implemented as per the recommendations of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal.

Chudasma reiterated that Patker and the NBA was getting huge financial assistance from abroad for continuing their movement aimed at stalling the project. The NBA leaders have been asked to withdraw their agitation and extend full support to Gujarat in completing the project.

In a statement, Vyas said that it was time for Patkar and other so-called environmentalists to shun negative campaign for the project that was the lifeline for Gujarat. He asked them to help in a constructive manner so that the project that was constantly mired in legal tussles could be expedited in the larger interest of the people of the state.

While denying the charge levelled by Patkar that the state government was maligning the NBA, Vyas said it was otherwise as she and her colleagues were blaming the government for the unprecedented water crisis. This, he said, despite it making the best possible efforts to provide water to the farthest of villages.

Lashing out at statements issued by NBA leaders, Vyas said it was really unfortunate that NBA and other environmentalists were blaming the state government for the situation. He charged that it was mainly due to obstacles raised by NBA against the ambitious project that more than 9,000 villages were reeling under acute drought. "Thus it was Patkar who created the drought," he said.

"Not a single NBA activist has even set up a small water kiosk at the relief sites or in a scarcity-hit village in Saurashtra," Vyas said, adding that the people of Gujarat and other states have seen through their gameplan.

"They are exposed and it is no more possible for them to hold the people of Gujarat to ransom."

Once the project was completed, the Narmada waters would save Saurashtra and North Gujarat from frequent droughts. Chudasma strongly contested the statement of Patkar that the state government has failed to carry out water conservation programmes. He said Patker should have taken pains to go through the statistics on water conservation projects in which Gujarat was almost on the top in the country.



The Economic Times


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