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Updated: May 4, 2014 23:11 IST
MANDATE 2014

Medha Patkar opposes interlinking of rivers

Santosh Patnaik
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Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar

Says it will lead to economic and ecological disaster. A founding member of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ms. Patkar said interlinking would also destroy the aquatic wealth, archaeological remains and natural forests.

Interlinking of rivers proposed by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance will lead to human, economic and ecological disaster, social activist Medha Patkar cautioned on Sunday.

Ms. Patkar, convener of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), now on a trip to the city to campaign for Aam Aadmi Party told The Hindu that corporate honchos were trying to push forward the interlinking of river. “It will not only involve huge costs but also displace many and poise serious livelihood problem on those depending on fishing and agriculture,” she said. According to her, the cost of the project which was estimated at Rs.5.6 lakh crore four years ago might have escalated to Rs.10 lakh crore by now.

There was no logic in taking up interlinking when the United States had imposed a moratorium on construction of big dams on economic grounds since 1994.

A founding member of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ms. Patkar said interlinking would also destroy the aquatic wealth, archaeological remains and natural forests. Instead of constructing big dams, the government should plan small dams by involving the locals with their prior consent as stakeholders. Objecting to going ahead with the Polavaram project named Indira Sagar in Andhra Pradesh, she said they (powers-that-be) should reduce the dam size to put the displacement at bare minimum, sort out differences with Chattisgarh and Odisha and plan a series of mini and micro watersheds in the basin.

Strongly opposing subverting of Supreme Court order on mining in Scheduled Areas known as Samata judgment, she said they were not opposed to mining per se. “We will support if mining of bauxite and other minerals is taken up by the State itself in association with the tribal people by forming a cooperative. Mining by government bodies is not trustworthy as finally the mining lobbies will call the shots from behind,” she said pointing out that the Mining Development Corporations were registered under Companies Act in which any corporate could pick up stake as part of disinvestment.

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