Die hard

  • 14/12/1997

Noted environmentalist Sunderlal Bahuguna's fast, undertaken to highlight the dangers of the Tehri dam project, has lasted for more than 40 days.

This is the fourth fast by the 72-year-old Chipko movement leader. The last time when the environmentalist embarked upon a 72-day fast, the then prime minister H D Deve Gowda had assured that an independent review of the problems associated with the project would take place.

Bahugana and his supporters have expressed fears that the design of the dam is faulty and that in the event of an earthquake the reservoir could burst leading to a disaster. Those residing in the downstream areas namely, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Bijnor, Meerut, Hapur, and Bulandshahar would be worst affected if the dam breaks down. Also threatened by the waterlogging and salinisation are the 20,000 ha of fertile land in western Uttar Pradesh.

Moreover, it has been pointed out that the dam lies within the missile range of Pakistan.

The Save Himalaya Movement leader is peeved about the false promises made by the government from time to time.

Bahuguna is joined by eminent economist H M Desarda, who has concluded that the project was ill-suited to the region and that it would lead to further exploitation of the Himalaya. Desarda recently completed a tour of Garhwal and Kumaon region and has alleged gross irregularities in the utilisation of funds.

Desarda has demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation, saying that two-thirds of the expenditure incurred on the project was being siphoned off. "For every three rupees of expenditure shown, corrupt officials and contractors are pocketing two rupees,' he said. He said there was no justification in saying that since Rs 2,000 crore have been spent in the project, it should be completed.

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