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Tuesday 23 November 1999
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Govt not to back kar seva

GANDHINAGAR: The state government will not support the proposed kar seva by Sharad Joshi and his followers at the Sardar Sarovar Project site on December 6, water resources minister Jay Narayan Vyas clarified on Monday. He also appealed to Mr Joshi to abandon his plan in the larger interests of the state's people, who were united on the issue.

Talking to reporters, Mr Vyas and Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam chairman Bhupendrasinh Chudasma expressed the hope that in view of requests from NGOs and leading citizens, sense would prevail and the planned kar seva would be put off.

Mr Vyas said a majority of NGOs had decided to stay away from the programme which, he feared, would send wrong signals to the people and the authorities and further affect pace of work on the project. It would also have an adversely impact on fate of the case relating to the height of the dam, pending before the Supreme Court.

The minister, while ruling out the question of any conspiracy behind the kar seva, said, "It will definitely divide public opinion on the Narmada."

He added that Mr Joshi was free to organise peaceful demonstrations in favour of the project anywhere except the dam site, which was a prohibited area.

When asked whether the government would take action in case Mr Joshi went ahead with his plan, Mr Vyas replied, "We will decide as and when such a necessity arises."

He pointed out that such a programme would reflect badly on the state government's performance.

"In fact, Madhya Pradesh's non-cooperative attitude in the rehabilitation programme is coming in our way and has resulted in an inordinate delay in carrying out construction work. Therefore, if a popular agitation is planned, it should be against Madhya Pradesh," he reasoned.

Expressing hope that the programme will be called off, Mr Vyas said, "We are trying our best to persuade Mr Joshi and it is certain that he will respond positively."

The Economic Times


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