Narmada Samachar: 1 Februrary 2003
- Sardar Sarovar
- Feature Article: Current of Patriotism: Thousand Points of Light in Bilgaon - Dilip D'Souza
All this (and more) news can be accessed via the Press Clippings
The NBA press releases are accessible at:
Archives of Narmada Samachar are accessible at:
Press ClippingsCoffers empty, but SSP needs Rs 16,500 cr! ;
Modi seeks higher crude oil royalty ;
Centre to help Gujarat implement Sardar Sarovar Project ;
Govt refutes NBA charges on Maheshwar project ;
Expect new power projects during 2003 ;
NBA Press ReleasesAdivasi Village of Narmada Valley Achieves Energy Self-Sufficiency; Bilgaon Electrifies itself with 15 KW Micro-Hydel Project ;
Modi plans another genocide! All out to flood Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat adivasi and non-adivasi villages in the coming monsoon. ;
Other related Press ReleasesNAPM joins Protest Against Sea-sand Mining in Kerala Organizations Call For People's Right Over Resources ;
Farmers, Workers and Students in North, Central Kerala Resolve to Resist Unsustainable Development, Privatization and Communalism ;
National Campaign by Peoples Movements Against Globalization and Communalism Kicked off at Palakkad; Dhadda Returns Padma Bhushan ;
Desh Bachao Desh Banao Abhiyan Save the Nation, Build the Nation Campaign ;
Press ExcerptsExperts raise doubts about river-linking project ;
... Water management experts have expressed doubts about the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee's ambitious project of inter-linking of rivers to solve the problem of regional imbalance of water in the country. ...
... The state government on Friday issued a notification announcing the transfer of seven senior IAS officials. Officials who have been transferred include principal secretary, revenue department, C.K. Koshy, managing director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. K.C. Kapoor, managing director of the Gujarat State Handloom Development Corporation V.C. Patel, municipal commissioner of Baroda Arvind Aggarwal, among others. ...
Tehri DamRelease activists ;
... Kaiser Rana and Prithpal Singh Negi of Ramnagar, district Nainital, have been missing since January 20 after they were released on bail at New Tehri by the SDM's court.
They were taken away by Uttaranchal police from outside the court premises. Both are activists of the Uttarakhand Kisan Sangathan which has been working among the people on rehabilitation in the submergence area of the Tehri dam. The charges allow detention up to 24 hours only, yet both were kept for 15 days in custody. ...
... After getting displaced from their old homes two decades ago, 90 families of Tehri dam oustees who are again being forced to leave their new homes for expansion of Jollygrant Airport here have refused to oblige the Uttaranchal government. ...
Other DamsPak plans to strip PoK 'govt' of all powers ;
... Put off by his vehement opposition to the raising of Mangla dam's height by 40 feet, the military rulers of Pakistan have decided to divest Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) "prime minister" Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan of his powers. ...
... Imphal: Zeliangrong Students' Union, Manipur (ZSUM) has registered its strong opposition to the construction of Tipaimukh dam by contending that the proposed dam would harm the land and the people for generations come. ...
... As the boundary of proposed reservoir is just 3-4 km away from the tiger reserve, the big cats are likely to be cut off and isolated ...
... More than one billion people, one in every six people on the planet, currently lacks access to safe drinking water, according to Patrick McCully, author of Silenced Rivers - The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. Pakistan is no exception. ...
Feature Article: Current of Patriotism: Thousand Points of Light in Bilgaon - Dilip D'Souza
Times of India - 29 Jan 2003
Recently, a friend and his wife took another couple to a Bandra restaurant for dinner. Seated at the next table was a man my friend described like this: "Dark shirt, fingers loaded with heavy gold rings, sipping his drink alone and looking across at our table rather intently."
Conversation in my friend's party drifted from subject to subject, touching on politics now and again. Such talking points as Netaji, Germany and the swastika were discussed, and then my friend made a critical remark about the Shiv Sena. Mr Gold Ring erupted. He began shouting at the two couples, making remarks about their ancestry, telling the other diners Woh South Indian hain ("They are South Indians") as if that was a crime by itself. Then he pronounced that he was a "nationalist" and these four were "anti-national."
Some other diners clapped. Clearly he, and they, believed that simply pronouncing yourself a "nationalist" is proof enough that you are; it's also enough to let you pronounce who isn't.
When I heard this tale days later, it struck me that at about the same time that this was happening to my friends, I was in a tiny, but gorgeous, village in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district. Bilgaon, it's called; reachable either by very poor mud road from the dusty town of Dhadgaon, or by boat up the Narmada from Hapeshwar in Gujarat, followed by a brisk hike through the Satpuras. Perhaps 2,000 people live here, in 12 dispersed padas, or hamlets. That day, more than 2,000 people were present. Nobody claimed to be a nationalist. Nobody pointed out that others were not. There was a good deal of clapping. And I came away thinking if there is any patriotism left in this country, it is here, it is here, it is here. What happened in Bilgaon? Two young engineers from Kerala came here about a year ago. With two others from that state, and the Bilgaon villagers themselves, to help implement the project they had designed, they worked quietly and steadily for months. More or less while Gold Ring was raving in a Bandra restaurant, they inaugurated their project.
Bilgaon sits on a spur formed by two rivers, the Udai and the Titodi, that meet in a spectacular waterfall at the point of the spur. At the Udai, their joint waters meander through the hills for a few kilometres before emptying into the Narmada. The water falls because the Udai, on one side of the spur, flows some 50 feet above the Titodi. It is this height difference, and the spur, that made the project conceivable.
Anil and Madhu, the engineers, began by building a concrete dam across the lazy, shallow Udai immediately below the village. At one end of the dam, an opening feeds into a channel that diverts some of the Udai's flow. The channel snakes around the spur. Its last half sits in a man-deep trough that the team dynamited yes, actually blasted through rock. The channel feeds water into a large tank they built on the slope high above the Titodi. From the base of the tank, a sturdy metal pipe runs eight metres downhill into a concrete shed that houses a turbine and generator.
Water from the Udai flows through the channel into the tank, then plunges through the steeply inclined pipe into the turbine. And then, if I may paraphrase again, there is electricity. Fifteen thousand watts worth.
The time, I watch the entire strength of Bilgaon's tribal school 300 children in every size, shape and sex turn out to do their bit for their village project. Gleaming thalis in their hands, squealing and laughing, they splash into the river to scoop up fine black sand from its bed, over and over again, producing a rapidly growing pile of the stuff on the side of the spur. That sand is now built into the tank that feeds the turbine. The dynamiting itself: Madhu's mate Murali shoos us rubber-neckers off up the slope, lights the fuse with the cigarette dangling from his mouth, hitches up his veshti and strolls up to join us. A few seconds later, a deep thump and huge pieces of rock fly through the air.
Today, wires strung on poles lead from the shed to all 12 Bilgaon padas, one actually across the Udai river. That day when Gold Ring was declaiming in Bandra, a symbolic switch was turned on. Lights shone in Bilgaon for the first time. Ever. Not the British, not 55 years of Indian governments, not 42 years of belonging to Maharashtra nothing had brought these villagers electricity.
Now their own hard work, helped along by four speakers of Malayalam, has changed all that. George Bush senior used to go on at painful length about a "thousand points of light". To me, the phrase suggests that nations are not built by waiting for corrupt and inefficient administrations to deliver, because too often they don't. Instead, they are built by small, inspiring, efforts by individual citizens. By thousands of points of luminous excellence. Whether what you see in Bilgaon these nights counts as one point of light or 300 is immaterial: You see them, that's all. And when you do, you know that while innumerable Gold Rings want us to join them in denouncing those whose opinions differ, to applaud them merely because they claim patriotism, there are others who want no applause, point no fingers, claim nothing, but simply live their patriotism. Over the last year, several such did some hard work in Bilgaon. Not just to build a dam, but to build a nation.