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Tuesday 30 November 1999
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No action against Joshi as yet: Vyas

GANDHINAGAR: State Narmada development minister Jay Narayan Vyas on Monday said the government would take appropriate action when it was certain about the proposed kar seva by Sharad Joshi at the dam site in the first week of December.

Replying to queries from reporters, the minister said, so far, neither Mr Joshi nor the Gujarat Khedut Samaj had intimated their plan to the district authorities, but it seemed Mr Joshi was hell-bent on going ahead with the kar seva. Mr Joshi, however, has dropped his earlier programme of kar seva on the issue of construction of an irrigation bypass tunnel (IBT), and, now, would hold the kar seva at the dam site by creating a human chain which would collect water from the dam and pour it into the canal.

To a question whether the government would continue its persuasion with Mr Joshi for abandoning his agitation, Mr Vyas said that "if he is adamant" there is no need for the government to make efforts in persuasion.

Referring to the statement by Gujarat Lok Samiti president Chunibhai Vaidya, who was a mediator for Sharad Joshi, Mr Vyas said, "It was nothing but double-speak by Mr Vaidya." On the one hand, Chunibhai announced that he would not participate in the yatra since it tantamount to contempt of court; and, on the other hand, he appealed to others to join the yatra, saying the farmers had sought legal opinion which said that in staging the demonstration, aimed at exposing the designs of anti-dam activists such as Medha Patkar and others, there was no violation of any Supreme Court judgment.

The minister also scoffed at the views expressed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, who had threatened the state government that he would move the Supreme Court if the Gujarat government did not prevent Mr Joshi from holding the kar seva for construction of the IBT. Mr Singh should not have issued such a threat since the IBT was not a part of the Narmada Water Disputes Award as was misunderstood by the Madhya Pradesh chief minister.

In fact, the proposal for the construction of an IBT sent by the Gujarat government was still pending with the Narmada Control Authority, and, therefore, there was no question, at this stage, for the construction of an IBT which was always planned along with major dam project such as the Narmada.

Mr Vyas reiterated that the kar seva being organised by the Gujarat Khedut Samaj as a show of strength for the Narmada project was untimely and would affect the progress of the work.

The minister asserted that even internationally, the BJP-led alliance had prevailed over some of the agencies that wished to visit the project at the behest of the Narmada Bachao Agitation group, and, finally, such visits were cancelled.

The minister said that it was owing to the effective and positive action by the state government that the Centre had sanctioned more than Rs 1,800 crore for the project.

The Economic Times


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