Monday, May 17, 2010

Dam victims get support to fight

A Jesuit activist and NGOs have asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to help rehabilitate people displaced by two dams before even more areas are submerged.
Father Cedric Prakash and others told Singh that increasing the height of the dams in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat states would displace more families.
The priest directs a human rights center, Prashant or tranquility, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s commercial capital.
Their May 7 letter said 80 percent of the Maheshwar dam in Madhya Pradesh has been completed but barely five percent of 70,000 people displaced were rehabilitated.
In the case of Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat, most of the 30,000 displaced have not been rehabilitated.
The letter said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has reportedly requested Singh to lift the suspension of construction work “based on his personal guarantee that rehabilitation will be done.”
Gujarat Chief Minster Narendra Modi has requested for help in raising the heights of Sardar Sarovar to 138.6 meters despite his government’s inability to use “waters available at 121.91 meters height,” the letter said.
The letter also reminded Singh of his promise in 2006 to rehabilitate within three months all displaced by the Sardar Sarovar project. “But it remains unfulfilled even in 2010,” the activists said.
If further construction on dams “proceed based on unfulfilled promises and political expediency, there is little hope of resettlement of the poor sacrificed at the altar of poor planning,” the letter said.
Such a move would also mean “corrupt governance” not being held “accountable to the laws of the nation and the unassailable values of human and fundamental rights,” it added.

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