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Medha Patkar's condition worsens

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 4: The condition of fasting Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar worsened as efforts of Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz to persuade her to end her indefinite hunger strike failed again today.

Ms Patkar, who is adamant on meeting her demand of rehabilitating all families displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam and abandoning the plan to raise its height by another ten metres refused the plea of Mr Soz on the seventh day of the agitation.

Even the Minister's assurance that he will travel to the Dam site to take stock of the NBA demands did not deter Ms Patkar and her two colleagues who are on hunger strike with her.

Ms Patkar today received a stream of visitors who extended solidarity with her.

Among those who came were former Prime Minister V P Singh, Booker Prize-winning author and anti-dam activist Arundhati Roy, women's rights activist Mohini Giri, socialist leaders Surendra Mohan and Manju Mohan and ultra Left wing leader Kumudini Pati.

Yesterday, Ms Patkar rejected a glass of fruit juice Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent to her saying she would not compromise the cause of people being uprooted for a dam in Narmada Valley.

In an effort to make the NBA leader and her two associates give up their six-day-old fast, the Prime Minister had sent Minister of State in his office Prithviraj Chavan, Mr Soz and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar to her pavement dharna site outside Jantar Mantar yesterday afternoon.

The NBA has been staging protests here since March 17 against the decision of the Narmada Control Authority to raise the dam height from 110.64 to 122 metres. It says nearly 35,000 families would lose their source of livelihood and homes due to submergence in the dam's waters once the decision is implemented.

Ms Patkar, Jamsing Nargave and Bhagwatibai Jatpuria (affected villagers from Madhya Pradesh) started an indefinite fast on March 29 on failing to get a promised response to their demands from the Prime Minister.

The NBA says the Sardar Sarovar Project has uprooted communities living in Narmada Valley for the past many centuries, it has also become financially unviable and corruption-ridden.

The UPA's Left allies have been supportive of Ms Patkar's struggle and are mounting pressure on the government to immediately intervene in the matter. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat and Central Committee member Subhashini Ali visited Ms Patkar at the dharna site yesterday.

CPI leaders A B Bardhan and D Raja as also Gandhians, socialists, writers, artistes, students and other civil society groups have also visited Ms Patkar.


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