Medha to fight legal battle against Polavaram project

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Hyderabad, Oct 4 (UNI) Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar today asserted that she would organise the tribals and fight a legal battle against the mammoth Polavaram project taken up by the Andhra Pradesh government despite 'objections' from the riparian states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

Talking to newspresons here after meeting Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy at the secretariat, she reiterated that she was not against irrigation projects or hydel projects per se.

Claiming that the views of tribals, who would be displaced were not taken into consideration, Ms Patkar, also the convener of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), said ''we will continue our fight against the project through the Gram Sabhas of tribals.'' Advocating mini and medium irrigation projects and fuller utilisation of water in the catchment areas before it joined the river, she said there was increasing realisation the world over against taking up giant irrigation projects which displaced a large number of people and whose benefits were less when compared to losses.

The prestigious project of the Rajasekhara Reddy government envisaged construction of a dam across the mighty river Godavari which would transfer large quantities of water to the Krishna basin through a link canal and irrigate 291,000 hectares of land and generate over 900 MW of power.

Over two lakh people, many of them tribals, would be displaced in the three states, a majority of them in Andhra Pradesh as the project would submerge 63,691 hectares, mostly farmlands, she contended.

''We have submitted alternative proposals to the state government to reduce the submergence of lands. We are yet to hear from State Major Irrigation Minister P Lakshmaiah on our concerns about rehabilitation of tribals,'' she said.

She urged the state government to immediately extend the provisions of the fifth schedule of the Constitution to over two lakh adivasis living in 805 villages in nine districts, pending since 1950.

Though the state government had identified 805 such villages and sent proposals to the Union Government, tribals of these villages were denied their constitutional right even after lapse of 27 years, she lamented.

UNI

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