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AIKMS' campaign at Kumbh Mela to oppose diversion of river water
Continuing its campaign at the Kumbh Mela, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS) on Feb. 13th will highlight the problem of free diversion of river water meant for irrigation to help profit-making multinational corporations. A large number of intellectuals and organizations have lent support to the campaign and shall be participating in the event. The main theme is 'People, not companies have first right over nature and NO to MNCs'.

During the campaign named Jal Sansad, songs, cultural programmes, banners and leaflets shall be used to oppose transfer of 97 lakh litres of Jamuna water (per hour) to two power plants in trans-Jamuna being built by JP group. It will threaten survival of more than 10 lakh people living in the area. Bara TPP will draw 51.25 litres and Karchana will draw 46 litres initially. Later Bara will draw more when it is upgraded from 1980 MW to 3300 MW. A 17-km long pipe line of six feet in diameter is being laid from Padua to Lohagra. This will completely dry up the river bed in May and June, and will cause severe drop in the water table in the city and rural areas. It will finish off all sand mining work, river bed agriculture, fishing and ferrying, rendering lakhs of people jobless.

The Bara plant will burn 24,000 tonnes of coal per day, producing more than 6000 tonnes of ash per day, which will pollute the ground water and the atmosphere. It will ruin agriculture in minimum eight-km radius. Ash disposal ponds will allow seepage of mercury and lead which will poison the ground water and render the soil misfit for crops.

Jamuna river is the main source of water supply to Allahabad city. City water supply, canal and tube wells’ irrigation will be adversely affected. To clean water for Kumbh, irrigation canals are stopped while in May and June the river discharge is even lower.

AIKMS is demanding installation of solar energy panels in all villages and markets. Though they have high capital cost, they have zero running cost as they do not use any fuel or water and they do not cause any human displacement.

AIKMS has condemned the Mela and Railway organizers for making inadequate arrangements for people that forced devotees to walk more than 40 kms for bathing. There was no proper covered resting shelter or any proper transport from Mela to vehicle parking. Proper transport would have eased the rush. The reported baton charge at the railway station led to the stampede and unfortunate deaths.

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