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No stopping of work at dam site: PM to Guj MPs

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    New Delhi, Apr 16: An all party delegation from Gujarat, including parliamentarians from the Congress and BJP, today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who assured them that construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam would not be stopped.

    The delegation called on Dr Singh at his official residence following yesterday's meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority which failed to reach a consensus on the Centre's proposal to suspend contruction of the dam until resettlement and rehabilitation of the affected families was completed.

    The Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority was 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.

    The MPs, who met the Prime Minister told reporters that Dr Singh gave the assurance that the construction of the dam would not be stopped in the larger interest of the people of the state.

    Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had yesterday announced to go on a 51-hour fast at Sabarmati Ashram if the Centre stopped construction at the dam site.

    Meanwhile, after the Prime Minister's assurance, the Congress which had called for a 'Gujarat Bandh' has withdrawn the call.

    Media Advisor to the Prime Minister Sanjay Baru said, Dr Singh heard the MPs and was deeply concerned about the rehabilitaion and resettlement of the affected families. ''The Prime Minister told the delegation that as long as the rehabilation process was in progress there was no question of stopping the construction of the dam,'' Mr Baru said.

    Later talking to reporters BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley, who was part of the delegation, said the Prime Minister has assured that the ongoing construction work on the dam would not be stopped.

    ''The Prime Minister gave patient hearing and we believe that work will not be stopped,'' Mr Jaitley added.

    Congress MP Bharat Singh Solanki, who was also part of the delegation, said ''all political parties in Gujarat are unanimous that there should not be any lowering in the height of the dam.'' He also said following Dr Singh's assurance, the Gujarat Congress has decided not to go ahead with the 'bandh' call in the state today.

    ''There is no need for further discussion on the dam height issue as it had been fixed by the Supreme Court and the only issue is the rehabilitation and resettlement of the dam oustees which needs to be streamlined,'' Mr Solanki added.

    Yesterday, a crucial meeting of the Review Committee of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) remained deadlocked with the BJP-ruled states opposing the Centre's proposal for suspending the proposed increase in the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam till rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) of the dam oustees was completed.

    The resolution, which was backed by the Congress-ruled Maharashtra, however, fell flat because there was a tie of three votes each for and against it. While Prof Soz, Mr A Raja and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh voted in favour of the resolution, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan opposed it.

    Three other resolutions, including one seeking construction work for the proposed increase in the dam height and simultaneous rehabilitation and resettlement work, also resulted in a tie, with the two sides striking an adamant posture.

    UNI

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