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Accept WCD report: NBA

By Our Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL, NOV. 25. The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) today reiterated its demand that the State and Central Governments accept the recommendations of the World Commission of Dams (WCD). The NBA also urged the Government to put a moratorium on construction of all large dams, provide reparations to those already displaced, and implement the water and energy alternatives.

The NBA also announced that it would initiate legal proceedings against some ``defamatory'' advertisements that have appeared in leading newspapers while focusing attention on the WCD report released recently in London.

NBA leaders, Mr. Alok Agrawal and Ms. Chittaroopa Palit, said the WCD report says that on the one hand the envisaged benefits of large dams could not be realised fully, and on the other, these dams have had serious social, economic and environmental impacts. The WCD has recommended that the benefits of these projects be re-evaluated and all options to the large dams that can provide water and energy be assessed with the participation of all the stakeholders.

The WCD report says that contrary to accepted belief, the reservoirs of large dams emit green-house gases and are as damaging to the environment as thermal projects. Thus, the myth of

``environment-friendly'' hydel power has been broken, the NBA leaders claimed.

They said the WCD report has recommended that no dams be built without the consent of affected people. The report makes adverse comments about the Narmada dams. They demanded that the Centre accept the conclusions and recommendations of the WCD.

The NBA said the WCD had concluded that large dams failed to produce as much electricity, provide as much water, or control as much flood damage as their sponsors claimed. Also, large dams suffer massive cost over-runs and time delays. Many such dams have proved to be uneconomic, even largely unsuccessful. These findings, the NBA leaders said, have led the WCD to make a number of important recommendations which apply to the full spectrum of dams - from existing ones to those under construction or in the planning stage. The WCD, they pointed out, recommends comprehensive and participatory assessments of the needs to be met and different options for meeting these needs should be developed before detailed studies are made on any project.

The NBA leaders referred to a recent newspaper report, claiming that the WCD has supported large dams on the Narmada, and described it as completely false. On the contrary, they said, the WCD's India Country study had come to damning conclusions.

They further cited ``defamatory'' advertisements in some newspapers by an hitherto unknown organisation - the National Council Of Civil Liberties (NCCL) defaming Ms. Medha Patkar, Ms. Chittaroopa Palit and the NBA.

The NBA leaders said the NBA had never given any documents sensitive to national security to any foreign interest.

On the other hand, the NBA is committed to bringing issues such as the high cost of power of the Maheshwar Project and the lack of rehabilitation into public debate. The NBA has sent notices to the NCCL and is filing a criminal defamatory case against the newspapers that have published the advertisements.

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