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Press Note - 11.1.98

Ten Thousand People "Capture" Maheshwar Dam Site.

Work Stalled.

Complete Review Demanded.

Over 10,000 men and women from the villages affected by the controversial Maheshwar hydel-power project in the Narmada valley have "captured" the dam-site early morning today bringing all the work to a grinding halt. As more villages and their supporters from the other dam affected areas including Sardar Sarovar, Narmada Sagar, Man, Jobat, Bargi, Lower Goi, Upper Veda and other organisations from other parts of the country are pouring, the people have virtually seized the blasting place and other works regarding the construction. The police have sealed the roads leading to the dam-site, but the people have darted from their villages in the middle of the night by internal pathways and have reached the dam-site. Majority of the people are women.

The project, the first privatised hydro-power project in the country, has been assigned to S.Kumars company, which is collaborating with multinational companies like Pac-Gen, Asian Brown Boveri (ABB). It would one of the most fertile tracts of cotton, chilly, wheat and well settled 61 villages with a population about 1,00,000. The government and the company have refused to give complete information regarding the dam, displacement, Memorandum of Understanding and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), despite the repeated demand by the "Maheshwar Bandh Virodhi Sangharsha Samiti (Narmada Bachao Andolan)" for atleast one year. The people are demanding complete stoppage of all work on the dam, complete information and review of the destructive dam with people's participation. The siege will continue till the demands are met.

(Sanjay Sangwai)

From Maheshwar