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Panel survey an eyewash: Medha

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Staff Correspondent

If it confines itself to probing ATRs

Panel should investigate compliance with tribunal award Survey methodology inadequate BJP's intolerance condemned

BHOPAL: Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar on Wednesday said the survey of affected villages undertaken by the Sardar Sarovar Relief and Rehabilitation Oversight Committee might eventually prove an eyewash.

The terms of reference, and the timing of investigation of resettlement and rehabilitation of the Narmada dam-affected people were a complex matter, she told a press conference here.

If the committee restricted itself to investigating the Action Taken Report (ATR), much time and opportunity would be lost and the dam height raised to almost 122 meters, rendering submergence of about 200 villages a fait accompli.

Ms. Patkar said the NBA cooperated with the Oversight Committee, headed by the former bureaucrat V.K. Shunglu, by making a presentation on the methodology and the survey objectives to be pursued. The committee should investigate compliance with the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award in letter and in spirit.

The surveyors' research methodology seemed inadequately designed and it would not help in an unbiased investigation of the legality of the relief and rehabilitation work, she said.

It wasan irony that the ATRsof the Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) formed the basis for the survey. Questions asked during the survey only confirmed the ATRs. The ATRs had been challenged in court and proved faulty.

In fact, there was no questionnaire or open-ended questions and only the ATR was being used with codes for answers.

While the surveys were on, the NVDA was still conducting a study of the impact of the backwater level at 121.92 metres.

If the committee claimed that it was collecting data on the number of families affected, how would the surveyors record additional particulars of the increase in the number of affected families?

Ms. Patkar raised doubts about the credentials of a Bhopal-based private company which, she said, was appointed by the Shunglu Committee to doa sample check of the survey done by the National Sample Survey Organisation.

Ameer Khan's commitment

Answering a query, Ms. Patkar said actor Ameer Khan had shown courage and commitment by supporting the NBA and the cause of the dam-affected people.

Others connected with the Mumbai film world had also taken a bold stand.

She released a statement, on behalf of the National Alliance of People's Movements, which said: "The antics of BJP workers in Gujarat in forcibly stopping the screening of Amir Khan's movie Fanaa are a grim reminder of fascist tendencies and increasing intolerance, and reflect a dangerous trend to suppress freedom of expression. This is against the constitutional and national values of this country."


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