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Tuesday 30 November 1999
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No change on proposed kar seva: Joshi

By Shailesh Pandya

VADODARA: Kisan leader and founder of the Shetkari Kamdar Sangathan Sharad Joshi said that he would stick to his plan of holding a kar seva at the Sardar Sarovar dam site at Kevadiya on December 4, and said that the question of dropping it did not arise.

He was reacting to a report which said that Narmada Jan Andolan (NJA) had dropped the idea of a kar seva on the irrigation bypass tunnel (IBT).

Talking to The Times of India recently Mr Joshi said the kar seva was intended to attract the attention of the world to a serious threat of drought and famine facing North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch.

Around two lakh farmers from different parts of the country would participate in it, he informed.

Former chairman of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) Sanat Mehta said he had supported this programme since it was for the first time that farmers had organised such a programme on their own.

In a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Joshi requested him to intervene and direct the governments of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh to help solve the water problems in Saurashtra, North Gujarat and Kutch. If the government agreed, an irrigation bypass tunnel could be used, which was mandatory in the construction of any dam, he said.

Narmada minister Jaynarayan Vyas appealed to Mr Joshi and the NJA to put off the proposed kar seva at the dam site in the interest of the state and its people. He said the state government had sought legal opinion in the wake of claims by NJA leaders that the kar seva did not tantamount to interference in the work of the Supreme Court where a case was pending in this regard. Mr Vyas felt such legal issue would only delay the matter by several months since nobody knew what stand the Supreme Court would take.

The NJA agitation might create misunderstanding; it was in the interest of the state to stay away from such a programme, Mr Vyas said.

Talking on the issues raised by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, Mr Vyas said that the award of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal (NWDT) was for sharing of the Narmada river water. If Madhya Pradesh was to use its allocation of water from the dam, where was the question of it affecting its share of water from the dam, Mr Vyas asked.

If there was an overflow of water from the dam, it could be used; it wouldn't affect the power project at the dam site as apprehended by Mr Singh, he added.

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