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PM asks Soz to retract dam statement

By Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
April 15, 2006 20:28 IST
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As soon as Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz declared that he is suspending the raising of the Sardar Sarovar dam height with immediate effect, Congress leaders from Gujarat rushed to complain to the Congress high command against his decision.

They argued that Soz's statement will be immensely harmful for the Gujarat Congress. In less than fours hours, Soz has been asked to give in writing that he has not asked to stop the construction of the dam and the final decision will be taken only by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The news agencies' reports have been denied by Congress leaders.

Bharat Solanki, Gujarat State chief of Congress told rediff.com, "Soz never asked to stop the construction of the dam. He will issue the statement soon."

Soz had argued that the decision was taken in his capacity as chairman of the review committee of the Narmada Control Authority.

The meeting was called after Medha Patkar and nine others belonging to the Narmada Bachao Andolan have been on an indefinite hunger strike since March 29.

It seems there is a complete confusion among the Congress leaders over the issue.

After ordering to stop the dam construction, Soz met Dr Singh in the evening and only then he agreed to retreat.

Now, Soz argues that the matter is pending in the Supreme Court and only court will decide about the construction.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi