Union govt trying to weaken NGT, says Medha Patkar

Social activist urges Puthuvype protesters to continue their struggle

March 02, 2018 10:30 pm | Updated March 03, 2018 06:27 pm IST - Kochi

In solidarity: Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar at the anti-LPG terminal protest venue at Puthuvype on Friday.

In solidarity: Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar at the anti-LPG terminal protest venue at Puthuvype on Friday.

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar on Friday alleged that the present rulers, especially at the Centre, were all out to weaken every democratic and environment protective institution in the country.

She was addressing the members of the LPG Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithi on the occasion of the agitation against the Indian Oil Corporation’s LPG terminal project at Puthuvype completing 380 days. She held discussions with the samithi members and urged them to continue the struggle.

NGT issue

Referring to the reports on the government trying to bridle the powers of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), she said the Centre was trying to ‘finish’ such institutions “either by putting a chief in the place of the former chief who will be totally insensitive and only for the corporates, or by changing the rules of the game. And that’s what is happening to NGT too,” she said.

She recalled that the Supreme Court, a few years ago, had clearly said that natural resources, especially petroleum and gas, remained a national reserve that belonged to the nation. But the governments had been giving them away to corporations even against the basic Acts existing in the country, she said.

“So whether it’s the Sagarmala project, Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram, or whether it’s IOC and other terminals, it’s very clear that there economy is going to flourish and bring them [corporations] huge profits while the small people’s regime is going to be finished. So it is profit versus people. Not just profit over people. And that’s why the resistance is on everywhere,” she said.

Blaming the governments for not paying attention to striking a balance between the environment and development, Ms. Patkar said that the next phase of the Narmada struggle would be in Gujarat, where farmers and fish workers were again raising a hue and cry ‘because the river is lost’. “The dam was built and dedicated to the nation. But a hundred kilometres of the river is absolutely drying. So when this happens, the people, everyone, from the State to contractors to corporations really have to bow before the nature. Now the people know that what we have been saying was true. But that is late sometimes. About 40,000 families are continuing the struggle in the Narmada valley,” she added.

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