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October 31, 2005
Well-known agricultural scientist and chairman, National Commission on Farmers, M. S. Swaminathan, has favoured construction of the Polavaram project and for that matter any big project, provided the environmental and social aspects are taken care of.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, on Thursday, he said such big projects were the need of the hour in the light of the Bharat Nirman programme under which 1 crore hectares of additional ayacut would be brought
under the plough. It was not the first time that big projects were taken up in the world, he said, citing the Aswan Dam in Egypt and the Three Gorges project in China. Dr. Swaminathan, however, wanted a realistic assessment of benefits and risks before embarking
upon any big project. If a particular project displaced tribals and others and affected the environment, sufficient steps must be taken up. "It's a win-win situation for people and the environment. There is no free lunch." Asked to comment on Medha Patkar's
strong opposition to Polavaram project, he said, "some people are ideologically opposed to big dams and prefer smaller ones." He said his policies "are going on right direction." During the meeting, Dr Swaminathan and the Chief Minister discussed the need
for bridging the gaps between scientific knowledge and field-level needs.
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