Modi should act like PM of country and not as CM of Gujarat: NBA activists

The Centre’s decision to allow the Gujarat government to raise the height of the Narmada dam by 17 metres is threatening to snowball into a major controversy with the CPI(M) urging the government to reverse the decision and ensure proper rehabilitation and resettlement of the families to be displaced.

Not only is the government facing criticism over the sudden move, questions are also being asked in several quarters about the legality of the decision when the Supreme Court has laid conditions for raising the dam height, the major one being prior rehabilitation of the evictees.

Even as supporters of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) held a demonstration outside the office of Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti here on Friday, the CPI(M) vowed to join the struggle of the people displaced by the dam in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Over 2.5 lakh families in 245 villages in the submergence zone face displacement, according to the NBA led by Medha Patkar.

Opposing the decision to raise the dam height, the CPI(M) disputed Ms. Bharti’s claim that the reports of the Social Justice Ministry and other related groups showed that the rehabilitation had been completed. “This is far from the ground reality. Let these reports be made public and the affected people be given a chance to be heard,” the party said in a statement.

Describing the decision as “illegal and unethical,” the CPI(M) said the Narendra Modi government had gone ahead with it without giving a hearing to the estimated 2.5 lakh people, including good number of tribal people in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, who would be affected.

“On one hand, the Prime Minister declares that his government will work for the poor, and on the other, he takes steps which will devastate the lives of thousands of poor families,” the party said.

NBA activists said Mr. Modi should act like the Prime Minister of the country and not the Chief Minister of Gujarat. “We expected him to show statesmanship and consult all stakeholders instead of just acting in the interest of Gujarat.” “In M.P. and Maharashtra, over 1,000 orders of the Grievance Redress Authority (GRA) are pending for compliance and 1,500 applications are pending for a hearing other than cases of fake registrations. The Centre has to comply with the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal award, rehabilitation policies, various judgments of the Supreme Court and GRA orders. The Narmada Control Authority’s decision to raise the height without M.P. and Maharashtra GRA clearances is illegal,” said an activist, Madhuresh.

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