Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"You cannot ignore the voice of the poor"

Government's first response proves futile; NBA rejects appeal to call off fast.
Last Saturday, Dr. Singh had assured Ms. Patkar after a meeting that he would convene a meeting of the concerned Ministers and get back to them. When there was no word from the Prime Minister by Tuesday, Ms. Patkar and others went on indefinite fast. Monday's visit by the Ministers was the first response of the Government since then.
Said Ms. Patkar: "You cannot ignore the voice of the poor in a development process. Development need not mean displacement. And you cannot have a handful of people take decisions without the participation of those affected and those asked to sacrifice their all."
Looking frail and weak, Ms. Patkar told the Ministerial team that the indefinite fast would continue till the construction of the Narmada dam in Gujarat was halted and a full review of the project and the rehabilitation situation on the ground was conducted. According to reports, the Gujarat Government has already raised the height of the dam from 110.64 metres to about 113 metres. The Narmada Control Authority permission is to take it to 121.92 metres.

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