Madhya Pradesh urges PM to intervene on Maheshwar project

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Bhopal/ New Delhi, Apr 29 (ANI): Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivaraj Singh Chauhan has reportedly written a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, expressing dissatisfaction over a Union Environment and Forests Ministry's order to stop the Maheshwar Dam construction.

Maheshwar is one of the large dams being constructed over the River Narmada.

On April 23, Union Minster of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has ordered for the immediate suspension of the Dam construction following an agitation by project oustees.

Thousands of oustees led by the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) had launched an indefinite hunger strike in the national capital, demanding to order the suspension of construction, until a comprehensive rehabilitation plan is placed for the over 70,000 affected.

In his letter Chauhan, urged Dr Singh to intervene in the matter.

Chauhan explained to Dr Singh that stoppage of the project at this juncture would result in loss of 7.2 lakhs units of power per day starting in 2010.

He alleged that the Union Environment and Forests Ministry has continuously threatened shutting down of this project despite State Government's repeated assurances.

The Madhya Pradesh Government privatized the project in 1992, by handing it over to the S.Kumar Group.

Around 70,000 peasants, fisher people, boatpeople and landless workers in 61 villages of this area are presently dependent on the riverine and land economy will be affected by this project.

On February 17, the Union Environment and Forests Ministry has issued a show cause notice to the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Limited (SMHPCL) stating that there has been no satisfactory compliance with the conditions of environmental clearance.

The ministry also asked the SMHPCL to show cause as to why the clearance should not be revoked and directions for the closure of the Maheshwar project should not be issued.

The reply filed by SMHPCL in response to the show- cause notice confirms that there is no rehabilitation plan with details of the agricultural land to be allotted to the oustees, and that the relief and rehabilitation measures are far lagging behind the construction of the dam.

On April 2, Ramesh had acknowledged during a media conference in Bhopal that conditions of clearance in the Maheshwar Project have been violated and status of rehabilitation is appalling.

He also said that he is ready to suspend work on the dam until rehabilitation is completed. However the Ministry of Environment and Forests has not suspended the work till now. (ANI)

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