Friday, November 24, 2006

Dam Bad?

"New Delhi, Nov. 22: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has postponed his visit to Manipur to lay the foundation stone of the Tipaimukh dam, adding to the drama over the controversial project in Churachandpur district.." [from yesterday's paper]

What drama? Here are some links: [Oct 24: Naga groups in anti-dam brigade], [Nov 12: Tipaimukh strike cripples Manipur],[Nov 13: Delhi to ignore dam protest]..

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Chinese movie 'Still Life' wins Golden Lion in Venice

From China Daily: "VENICE, Italy - The Chinese movie "Still Life," a surprise entry set against the backdrop of China's gigantic Three Gorges Dam project, won this year's Golden Lion - the top award at the Venice Film Festival - on Saturday..

"Still Life" was shot in the old village of Fengjie, which has been destroyed by the building of the Three Gorges Dam, and tells of people who go back there.."

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"Perhaps India's most precious fragile ecological zone, the Northeast is now facing a paradox: to be damned or not. The big dam lobby is planning to bulldoze thousands of acres of forests, fertile villages, rivers and streams to build 73 dams in the Northeast and 42 in Arunachal bordering China. At Yazali in Arunachal, the Ranga nadi has been killed, destroying downstream ecology.

Outside the mainstream's gaze, this is a recipe for apocalypse now under a nasty Police State. The tribal people of Arunachal have begun the first fight which has spread to Manipur. Despite deaths in police firing as in Manipur recently, the fight has spread.."

[quoted from Tehelka 2nd anniversary special in an earlier post on this diary]

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Some Q and A on Sardar Sarovar: Who pays, Who profits
[This document is somewhat old, the figures may have changed a bit, but not for the better]

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Some more dam stories, including Tehri and the legendary Bhakra-Nangal, to appear in a follow-up to this post (say, in the comments section). Please post your comment with the stories/details you have on big dams.


Alps said...

the narmada bachao andolan document is a little biased. i know of one village for sure, which is my native village, about 90-95 kms away from ahmedabad, where the the narmada canal has been a boon for the villagers. the villagers whose fates relied completely on rain/drought, are now able to consistently grow their crops.

maybe there are a lot of loopholes in the sardar sarovar project, but whitewashing it as a conspiracy against the poor. that is not the case as far as i know. also, when it is absolutely important that kutchch and saurashtra (and saurashtra is by no means a "poor" region as the document mentions) get the water as per the objective, how can the document ignore that fact that so far, so many villagers have benefited from it.

as mentioned in the document, access to this precious water by golf courses etc, should be definitely stopped. all i am saying is please refrain from making whitewash right/wrong statements.

sudeep said...

Alps, thanks for the comment that helps in getting into a discussion.
I had mentioned that document was an old one-- however, here's a recent update:
Sardar Sarovar brimming over but delay in canal work means dry Gujarat gets just a trickle, The Indian Express, Mon, Nov 13 2006. "Except for Kutch, the Narmada dam’s height is irrelevant now for other parts of the state as despite the water level at Sardar Sarovar dam being at 92 metres — the maximum height required to fulfil Gujarat’s needs — only a trickle is being released into the Narmada main canal because there is no distribution network where the water is required.."

Indian Express is pro-dam and is trying to put the blame mostly on NBA for this though.

And some years back, a couple of engineers had submitted a plan from the Andolan's side to get 80% of the benefits of the project with the dam height at 80 metres-- as opposed to the proposed height of 138m (at the time they submitted the report, the height was less than 80m).

Open Space said...

I believe in no more "development", as all development cause "Himsa" or crime in it, and For that, we should be able to sacrifice our quest for knowledge and other. What you say People? With the electricity generated by dams, we type this, right? Or is there a good development that cause no Crime???

Sudeep, your posts are becoming better and worth- especially when you write issues you are more concerned with. Good. Congrats.

sudeep said...

Open space, What do you mean when you say "I believe in no more development"? That you're against everything that goes on in the name of development? That is not my stand-- and even if one admits there is Himsa involved, I think it is a matter of what we can afford, and who are the ones who're deciding it.

I am not saying we don't need electricity in the world. You or me don't starve ourselves to death because the food we eat involves Himsa. I also don't want to equate Himsa with crime, as Himsa or destruction/killing is also a law of the nature. The rabbit kills the grass, the leopard kills the rabbit..

The question then is what is it that each of us can afford, what is it that the world can afford. The "mother" earth has already lost the balance or control, the temperatures are raising, and it seems most of out costal/low-lying areas including Mumbai and a good part of Kerala will be under water soon, with the snow melting in the poles.

It is not only about the forests and the ecological balance, it is also about people. About the divide on those who pay for and those who benefit. The Gujarat government sells Sardar Sarovar card in the name of the water-scarce Kutch but those who really benefit from it are the industry bigshots in the state. And for the water parks that require continuous suppy of good water (drinking quality) in huge quantities, there is no scarcity.

Our current development accumulates more than 80% of the resources to the cities where less than 20% of the population leaves, forcing more and more people to migrate to the city. I won't blame those who migrate, because studies show that even in the slums of Bombay the living conditions are much better than that of most of our villages. This includes electricity, food, access to medical assistance.. things that you may play down as "Himsa" or "crime", but it is a matter of life and death for most people, unlike you and me who have the access to all this and can say "I won't go to doctor" or "I won't use my blogger accout".

All these factors will have a role in deciding where our development is headed. Either we will be forced to decentralize the development, forced to think smaller (instead of Big Dams, Big Industries, Big City Projects..); those who are denied their right to live for long will start claiming their rights (I know it has started, and these movements are only going to become stronger); and the nature will also play its role.