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Medha paints PM with Modi brush

Bhopal, April 19: Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar today equated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

Medha, who has just come out of a 20-day fast, said while Modi was responsible for the communal riots in Gujarat, Singh’s actions could cause death and starvation in the name of development.

The NBA leader, who is protesting against the increase in the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam, kept referring to the central ministerial team’s report to argue that rehabilitation is inadequate.

In keeping with the season of yatras, Medha said her pol khol yatra (march to expose) would bust the rehabilitation claims of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

“A great fraud has been committed not only upon those who did not get compensation but those who are said to have been rehabilitated.” By May 1, when the next hearing is slated, the Supreme Court will have reasons to stop the construction, she said.

Unlike Delhi, Medha’s dharna in Bhopal failed to draw a response. Not a single student from Maharani Laxmibai College, the city’s biggest and within hearing distance from the site, heeded her “Narmada Bachao, Desh Bachao” call.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, tied in a tense triangular contest in the Budhini bypoll, was at home but chose to catch sleep instead of meeting her. “Why should I see her'” he asked.

Medha will now move to Narmada Valley in Barwani where a large number of villagers have been rendered homeless. But she does not enjoy popular support in the region.

Weavers in the temple town of Maheshwar, known for its saris, are upset with NBA’s opposition to the power project. Over 2,500 handloom units in the town face 14-16 hours of power cuts every day. Once the project is complete, 57 per cent of the total power generated will come to the state, which now has a daily shortfall of 1,500 MW.

Narmada originates in Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and travels over 1,300 km before emptying into the Arabian Sea at Bharuch. Nearly 80 per cent of this water falls in the state, which is why displacement is maximum here. Of the 245 villages that will be displaced by the dam, 177 are in Madhya Pradesh. It is also losing over 3,700 hectares of forest cover in the submergence.

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