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Medha Patkar, tribals oppose Polavaram

Special Correspondent

Tribals' rally turns violent in Khammam; MRO office ransacked


HYDERABAD: A day after the State Government secured the much-awaited environmental clearance for the Polavaram (Indirasagar) project, noted environmental activist Medha Patkar and the tribals facing displacement strongly opposed the Government's moves to go ahead with the project.

A rally by the tribal families turned violent at Chintoor in Bhadrachalam division as the protestors, led by Adivasi Samkshema Parishad, went berserk and ransacked the Mandal Revenue Office. They were angered over the refusal of the officials concerned to receive their memorandum. They damaged furniture and threw out the files in the MRO office.

Elsewhere, Ms. Patkar visited a koya habitation in Polavaram mandal of West Godavari district to express solidarity with the tribals. She termed Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's statement on the clearances for the project as misleading.

"What the project has secured from the Centre is only environmental clearance. But there is no forest clearance yet which is mandatory for any major dam," Ms. Patkar said at an interface with the adivasis.

Asserting that the project was part of efforts to boost industrialisation at the expense of agriculture and tribal areas, she volunteered to spearhead the agitations to be launched by tribals against giving clearances to Indirasagar project in violation of the people's right to life and the right to livelihood guaranteed by the Constitution. The Adivasi Samkshema Parishad expressed concern that the existence of some of the primitive tribal groups would be put at stake if the construction of the Polavaram project was taken up. No package from the Government could ensure the total rehabilitation of the displaced tribes.

Support extended

Major political parties like the TDP and the BJP extended their support to the Government in going ahead with the project and completing its construction before the stipulated deadline.

The BJP wanted the Government not to consider the opposition raised by "environmental fundamentalists" like Ms. Medha Patkar and commence work at the earliest.

The TDP too clarified that it was not against the Polavaram project.

The party only wanted the Government to concentrate on the other projects in the upper reaches of the Godavari so that the farmers in Telangana region too were benefited.

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