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A paradise lost

Frontline Volume 16 - Issue 17, Aug 14 - 27, 1999
India's National Magazine on indiaserver.com
from the publishers of THE HINDU



Table of Contents

THE NARMADA VALLEY

A paradise lost

"We only need to buy salt, tea and clothes. The rest we get from the land and the river. Take these away from us and all we can do is to hold a bowl and stand with our heads bowed on the city street."

- Shankar Patidar, landowner in Chotta Bardan, a village that is expected to be totally submerged.

THE village of Chotta Bardan has about 2,000 people. The riverbanks are steep and the village seems to hang over the fast flowing river, and does not dry even in the summer. Shankar Patidar has 20 hectares of land. Peanuts, sugarcane, cotton, vegetables and fruits are grown on the rich black soil of the area. He said: "There are six hands of black soil, below which there is about 26 feet of yellow soil and then there are five hands of gravel." This land is a heaven for farmers and they cannot understand why the Government is trying to persuade them to take money or land with thin soil in exchange.

He asked: "Why did no one ask us if we wanted this dam? This injustice cuts deep. We are the people who feed the nation and the Government treats us like goats. We have grown fat on this land and now we are being slaughtered and sold."


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