'River interlinking will give MNCs control'

Wednesday, 31 December 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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PATNA: Environmental activist Medha Patkar has claimed that the Indian government's ambitious plan to interlink rivers across the country would give multinational companies (MNCs) control over water resources.

Patkar, best known for leading a movement against the building of a dam on the Narmada river, described the interlinking project as a conspiracy to hand over water resources to MNCs and to deprive the people of their age-old rights to water.

"It is high time people were made aware of this to raise their voices against the move," Patkar told IANS.

"If the people fail to resist, the MNCs would capture water, a natural resource available to all free of cost," she warned.

The government plans to interlink rivers by about 2012 to tackle problems like drought by diverting surplus water to arid regions.

Patkar, who was here to take part in a workshop on the theme "Problems of Ganga-Brahmaputra Valley and people's initiatives in their solutions", dismissed the claim of policy makers that there was surplus water for the interlinking project.

"A river is an integrated ecosystem. You cannot think of it in terms of water alone," she said.

There were several entities dependent on rivers, including wildlife and the country's agrarian economy. The government's approach needed to be interdisciplinary.

Referring to what she described as the central government's "anti-people policies in the name of strengthening the economy", Patkar said India was moving from nationalisation to globalisation.

"Our natural resources are being taken over by the corporate sector, which has got hold of all the sources of energy. Similarly water would be handed over to the MNCs," she charged.

Source: IANS
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