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Govt buckling to Medha's pressure: Modi

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: April 15, 2006 14:49 IST
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Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, has said that any extra burden, either financial or because of stopping of developmental work, would be the direct responsiblity of the government of India. He accused the Central government of bending to the pressure from Medha Patkar and the Narmada Bachao Andolan to stall the raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam to 121 metres.

The meeting was attended by Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Environment and Forests Minister A Raja, chief ministers of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Modi said Maharashtra would be a big loser because out of the 1450 MW of electricity that would be generated during to the raised height, a major chunk would have gone to the state. It would have also help Madhya Pradesh to tide over the power shortage, he added.

Modi appealed to the Gujaratis to continue to exert pressure through peaceful means so that the Centre is not in a position to stop the raising of the height.

He also blamed the Maharashtra chief minister for playing political games rather than keeping the interests of the state in mind while casting his vote. Deshmukh refused to speak to the media, however.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and Vasundhara Raje, chief minister of Rajasthan, admitted, however, that there was a need for better rehabilitation programs to be taken up along with developmental work.

Gujarat has been asserting that the Sardar Sarovar Project is the lifeline of the state and would cater to its huge water requirement, particularly in drought-prone areas like Kutch. Both Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have been maintaining that they have been actively engaged in the rehabiliation work of the project-affected families.

The government had decided to call a meeting of the NCA in the wake of protests by NBA led by Medha Patkar demanding an immediate halt on the work to increase the height of the SSP, which they claim would displace 35,000 families.

Patkar, who has been on hunger strike since March 29, was forcibly removed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on April 5 after her health deteriorated. She has been consuming only lemon water since she was moved to the hospital.

With PTI inputs

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi