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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Not eco-romanticists

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Thursday, July 27, 2000


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Not eco-romanticists

Sir, - I was shocked to see Ms. Gail Omvedt's two part-article ``Farmers and dams'' (The Hindu, July 12, 13). I am currently at the Satyagraha in Domkhedi, one of the villages that will come under submergence this monsoon due to the SSP dam.

How many Indians feel that the roads in the country or the teachers in government schools are good? We see these everyday. We know the government has messed up and the contractors are making money at the cost of public interest.

Now consider a dam. It is being built by the same system. But how many of us have a direct experience of a dam? People like Medha Patkar and NBA activists have painstakingly worked to bring the problems and suffering to the notice of civil society and the judges in the Supreme Court. Are any of us willing to give our property so that the people displaced by big dams are rehabilitated. No one has made this offer even for a single displaced family, as far as I know; the reason is clear. We don't trust our governments or the contractors. Give them our property for public purpose and they are sure to pocket it.

Today in the Supreme Court when convincing arguments have been presented that there is no environmental clearance for the Sardar Sarovar Dam and no land to move the villagers to alternative sites, then one should not dismiss people such as Medha Patkar as eco-romanticists as Ms. Gail Omvedt has done in her article. It is a very serious situation and people accustomed to worshipping big dams have to do some soul-searching.

I for one don't find it unacceptable to admit that tribal people, farmers and a people's movement led by a woman have done better calculations and gathered scientific evidence against monster dams such as the SSP.

Ravi Kuchimanchi,

Domkhedi (Maharashtra)

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