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The Hindu on : Misconception

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Monday, May 22, 2000

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Sir, - `Reply to a tirade' by Shripad Dharmadhikary (The Hindu, May 15) has answered comprehensively the points raised by Prof. P. V. Indiresan in his ``Dams & activism'' (The Hindu, May 5). First and foremost, it is a misconception that large storage dams are built to quench the thirst of the people. Dams are meant for irrigation and power generation and one needn't look into the crystal ball to find out who reap the rich harvest.

It is elementary knowledge that, while the building of dams causes widespread devastation of natural forests, the gap between supply and demand for water is ever widening. It is therefore obvious that dams are not the solution.

Perhaps, it is true that more the number of social activists the less are the jobs for civil engineers, and likewise, less jobs for nuclear engineers, fighter aircraft and missiles engineers and uranium mining engineers, and so on. Perhaps, we should drop all the health and social welfare projects so that doctors can prosper. I would like to pose a specific question to Prof. Indiresan: What fraction of the total output of the Indian Institutes of Technology follow a career in Engineering (including dam-building)? If my memory serves me right, it is not long ago that he took pride in stating that the IIT Engineering graduates far outnumber all the rest in the entrance selection to the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Institutes of Management, etc. It follows, therefore, that social activism against building dams will have little effect on the job prospects of engineers.

Subbiah Venkataraman,


Sir, - Mr. D. S. Pillai in his letter (May 11) has described the unavoidable displacement of the tribals as ``uprooting from their homesteads''. Mr. Pillai, like the anti-dam activists (of the Narmada dam), would like the tribals to be left undisturbed, which implies that they should remain as they are today even after a century and more.

Should a section of society, however small it is, be condemned to live untouched by the benefits and enrichment of human life science and technology have made possible? Should they remain perpetually illiterate? Should they not be redeemed from their vulnerability to the vagaries of nature and superstitions?

N. K. Suryanarayanan,


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