NBA on indefinite dharna in protest against raising SSD Ht
New Delhi, Mar 17 (UNI) The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) today launched an indefinite protest in the capital against the decision of the Narmada Control Authority to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) to 121 m, from 110 m at present, without rehabilitating the inhabitants of 25000 villages likely to be submerged following the action.
Addressing a press conference here, NBA activist Medha Patkar, criticising the decision of the NCA as ''taken suddenly and under complete secrecy'', said ''the raising of the height of the Dam will submerge an additional 25000 villages in addition to the 10000 already submerged, whose residents have also still to be rehabilitated. In this context, the decision is as inhuman as the killing of innocent people in the Gujarat riots.'' She, however, welcomed the decision of the Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, who is also chairman of the Review Committee for the Narmada Control Authority, to review permission for further construction citing the primary reason the dissatisfaction with implementation of rehabilitation work.
''We welcome the decision of the minister to put on hold the NCA decision to raise the height of the dam to 121 m and his expressing his intention to visit the valley and assess whether there is satisfactory rehabilitation and resettlement in accordance with the award,''Medha Patkar said.
However, she added that even though the raising of the dam height has been put on hold, the problem of rehabilitation of the nearly 10000 villages already submerged and an additional 25000 villages likely to be submerged still remained unresolved.
In this context, she said that there were, at present no reports of monitoring and evaluation of rehabilitation in any of the three states even for Maharashtra where the report is supposed to have been completed.
''This playing around with the lives of thousands of people must stop immediately and rehabilitation must be carried out in a participative and transparent manner. There can be, under no circumstances, submergence without rehabilitation. So we are on an indefinite dharna to immediately stop construction,''she said.
A NBA delegation met the Union Minister today to apprise him of the plight of the villagers awaiting rehabilitation.
''The minister's positive response has given us a ray of hope- a sort of "silver lining in the clouds of depair". However, if the raising of the height of the dam goes ahead, we are ready to launch an indefinite struggle,''the activist said.
UNI AR SHB KN1816