NBA appeals to Prime Minister to use authority to stop construction
FOR THE DISPLACED: Narmada Bachao Andolan Activist Medha Patkar addressing the media at the Indian Women’s Press Corps in New Delhi on Monday. — Photo: S. Subramanium
NEW DELHI: The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on Monday described as “unjustifiable” the “delay” in the Supreme Court taking a decision on the application by Narmada dam-displaced families.
Addressing a “Meet the Press” organised by the Indian Women Press Corps here, NBA leader Medha Patkar said the court could have suspended the construction of the dam on Monday or on April 17 or even on April 3, when the matter was taken up for hearing. Because of the delay in taking a decision, the “lives and livelihoods of the displaced families in the valley are being submerged irreversibly.”
She appealed to the Prime Minister to use his authority to stop the dam construction and save the lives of the hundreds of affected people. “Democratic institutions are being destroyed in this case. There are differences between the United Progressive Alliance on the report of its own Group of Ministers and the State Governments are toeing party lines, and not aligning with people.”
Lashing out at a smear campaign against the NBA, Ms. Patkar denied that the Andolan was foreign funded. “As Commissioner on the World Commission on Dams, I travelled to several countries and heard various stakeholders in projects, and talked about our issue. Over the years we have built international relations. International support does not mean foreign funding. We are no foreign stooges. The Andolan is sustained by affected families.”
Ms. Patkar took exception to the allegation by the Madhya Pradesh Government that the NBA was coming in the way of rehabilitation, saying that for each of the stories “planted” against it, the Andolan had thousands of stories. “But we neither have the time nor the energy to counter each of them.”
Refuting that the NBA activists beat up anyone or stopped anyone from accepting whatever he or she wanted to, Ms. Patkar said had that been the case people would not have been with the Andolan. On the one hand, the Madhya Pradesh Government said it had completed rehabilitation of all families up to a dam height of 121.92, and on the other, a section of the press said that some families had been rehabilitated with cash.