Guwahati: Noted environmentalist and
Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar today demanded
that construction of big dams must be stopped in the North
East to save the region from complete destruction.
Addressing a massive rally, organised under the aegis
of the Kisan Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), at the Sonaram Field
here Patkar said the rivers must be saved and "if we want to
save the region from destruction, big dams must be stopped."
Earlier, "the government divided people on the lines of
caste and religion but now they are taking the name of
development," she alleged.
"We also want development but not at the cost of
peoples` lives and livelihood. We want development of rivers,
power, aquatic life and people of living on river banks and
not just of corporate houses and a section of politicians ,"
"Vikash Hobo, Vinash No hobo (We want development and
not destruction)," she asserted in Assamese.
The construction of dams involved scams amounting to
several thousands of crore and some corporate houses and
politicians were allegedly involved in this, she claimed.
She also lauded the role of KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi for
organising the rally and giving a voice to the farmers who
would be the worst affected if dams are constructed on the
Brahmaputra and its tributaries.
Patkar, later, fell ill and was rushed to a hospital,
while leading a protest march from the Sonaram Field to the
Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner`s office but her condition
was stated to be stable.
Meanwhile, tense situation prevailed near the Deputy
Commissioner`s Office when more than five thousand protestors
gathered to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister through
the Deputy Commissioner.
The district authorities declared the gathering
illegal and asked the crowd to disperse within ten minutes.
KMSS leader addressing the protesters pointed out that
they had applied for necessary permission for holding a dharna
at the Dispur Last Gate but was denied following they had
sought permission for holding a rally at Sonaram Field and a
protest march which was subsequently granted.
"The people of Assam have lost all faith in the Tarun
Gogoi-led Congress government and will themselves take steps
to stop construction of big dams," the KMSS leader claimed.
The activists dispersed after a novel style of protest
by showing their back to the authorities, spitting
symbolically at them and hurling their shoes.