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Narendra Modi to sit on 51-hour fast

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 15: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today announced that he would go on a 51-hour fast, beginning at 2 PM tomorrow, to protest against the Centre's ''obstructionist posturing'' on the Sardar Sarovar Dam, and said the UPA government would have to choose between ''Medha Patkar and Megawatt''.

''I will sit on a 51-hour fast on the banks of the Sabarmati river, beginning tomorrow at 2 PM,'' Mr Modi said after attending an inconclusive meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority, presided over by Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz.

The meeting was also attended by Environment Minister A Raja and the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Referring to some TV reports which quoted Prof. Soz as saying that work on the proposed increase in the height of the dam to 121.92 meters from 110.64 meters had been stopped, Mr Modi said the Union Minister lacked the authority to do so.

''He (Prof. Soz) can't take any such decision which will be a contempt of the Supreme Court and violation of its directives,'' he added.

The Gujarat Chief Minister also lashed out at the Centre for its decision to constitute a Group of Ministers and send them to the dam sites to oversee rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) measures, saying it amounted to a contempt of the apex court.

''Under the court order, there is a well-defined machinery to deal with the dam construction review and grievances redressal,'' he said.

Mr Modi also asserted that at today's meeting, no decision was taken to suspend the construction work of the dam.

Pointing out that the Sardar Sarovar Dam was a project of national importance in which the four states had already pumped in Rs 21,000 crore in the past 16 years, he said, ''The UPA government had kowtowed before the anti-dam protestors. It is scared of them.

The government which talks of 'Bharat Nirman' cannot afford to oppose such a developmental plan.'' In particular, he vented his anger on Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, saying he had ''stabbed the people of Maharashtra in their back and derailed the state from the path of development.'' Pointing out that there would be enormous benefits from the dam, he said 4000 villages of Gujarat and Rajasthan, which have been thirsting for water, would now get it.

''I am going to sit on a fast and I appeal to all the people of Gujarat to exercise patience and self-restraint. We will build pressure on the Centre in a peaceful and democratic manner,'' Mr Modi said, adding that it was unfortunate for the Central Government to succumb to the NBA's pressure.


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