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Left for lowering dam height, new policy framework for relief

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 6: Expressing concern over the condition of Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, the Left parties today demanded a new 'National Policy Framework' for relief and rehabilitation of millions of the displaced people including the tribals and slum-dwellers.

The policy should also contain adequate safeguards to protect the livelihood, environment and the cultural identity of the oustees, CPI, CPI(M) and Forward Bloc leaders said in separate interviews to UNI.

They said the crusade of Ms Patkar, who was forcibly taken to the AIIMS last night after her condition deteriorated alarmingly on the seventh day of her hunger strike, has raised the bigger question of the displaced people in the urban pockets also.

The concern showed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Ministers V P Singh and I K Gujral and distinguished journalist Kuldip Nayyar among others and the visit of Union Ministers Saifuddin Soz, Meira Kumar and Prithviraj Chavan for an on-the-spot report on the Sardar Sarovar Dam has brought to the fore the issue Ms Patkar seeks to focus on, the Left leaders added.

CPI's A B Bardhan and Shamim Faizi said the larger issue of what Ms Patkar was focussing on pertained to the continued displacement of people, particularly the tribals.

''The issue is not merely of the Narmda dam. Some days back, there was police firing and repression in Orissa, where 12 people, mostly tribals, were killed, while protesting against the displacement caused by taking over of their land for a steel plant to be set up by the Tatas,'' they said. Similarly, there was unrest among the tribals in the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, they added.

''There too, the Tatas are going to establish a steel plant. In Jharkhand also, there is a fierce struggle against the expansion activities of the empire,'' they said.

Mr Bardhan and Mr Faizi said that as far as the current agitation by Ms Patkar was concerned, it was the result of ''stark neglect'' by the Madhya Pradesh and the Maharashtra state governments of the rehabilitation of about 35,000 families which would be affected due to the raising of the height of the SSP by ten metres.

UNI

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