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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Not a balanced report

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Thursday, December 14, 2000


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Not a balanced report

Sir, - Of late, media is praising the Report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) for presenting in its report, a balance sheet of benefits and adverse impacts of large dams and for its suggestion to have an open and transparent decision-making system (The Hindu, Nov. 28).

The WCD came into existence through the efforts of an anti-dam lobby funded by developed countries. The commission's deliberate attempts to underplay the real contribution of large dams in improving the plight of the people living in developing countries are therefore on expected lines in the report.

The benefits from large dams have been given only a cursory treatment in the text, while a disproportionate amount of attention has been focused on the negative impacts; alternatives have been much talked about, but their adverse social and environmental impact not even mentioned. Hence the commission's report cannot be considered as a balanced one as claimed in the report.

For carrying out its deliberations and preparation of the report, the WCD had established a Forum to reflect diverse range of interests in the dams debate. However, the main players of the Forum, such as the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) and International Hydro-Power Association (IHA) were kept out of the ambit of preparation of its final report, thus giving a go-by to the sermons of transparency.

The WCD has, thus, achieved the purpose for which it was set up - to discourage the sincere efforts of developing countries to harness their water resources. If the report was released earlier and filed before the apex court, the proceedings there would have shed light on the bias against large dam options pervading throughout the report.

The facade of impartiality at present built around the report would then have been pulled down to expose the ugly intentions of the vested interests to perpetuate the dependence of developing countries on the developed ones for feeding their impoverished millions.

M. S. Menon

New Delhi

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