Monday, April 10, 2006

What's Wrong With the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)

PART-I Resettlement and Rehabilitation

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and its leader Medha Patkar have been much in the news lately, with well publicized protests against the Narmada Control Authority’s (NCA’s) permssion to the Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd. (SSNL) to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) Dam from the present 110.64 meters (363 feet) to 121.92 meters (400 feet).

I strongly disagree with the NBA. I also feel the many people who support the NBA have noble intentions, but are not adequately informed about many important issues. The perceptions they hold are simplistic, and are not justified by facts. This article is my attempt to throw some light on these issues.

I will not be delving into the history and background of the issue. A good background from the “pro-development” point of view – close to my own view – can be found here. See here for a perspective from the other side.

Perception. The dam will displace very large numbers of people, mainly belonging to the weaker sections of society, in a cruel manner. This will lead to a drastic reduction in their standard of living. Thousands of adivasi villages have been, or will be, completely submerged.

It is true that a large number of people – many of them adivasis – will be displaced. However the perception that the NBA seeks to create is highly exaggerated.

As of now, most of the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) in Gujarat and Maharashtra has been successfully completed1, and most of the remaining R&R is to happen in Madhya Pradesh (MP). By the time the dam is raised to its full designed height of 138.68 meters (455 feet), the following are expected to happen.
(1) Four villages (three in Gujarat and one in MP) will be fully submerged2.
(2) 241 villages will be partially affected (16 in Gujarat, 33 in Maharashtra and 192 in MP)2.
(3) The total number of project affected families (PAFs) – with major sons being counted as separate families – is 40,827 2.
(4) In MP, abadi (i.e., living area) will be fully submerged in 36 villages and partially in 116 villages; agricultural land will not be affected at all in 30 villages, will be affected upto 10% in 82 villages, 11 to 25% in 32 villages, 26 to 50% in 30 villages, 51 to 75% in 14 villages, 76 to 90% in 4 villages and 100% in only 1 village. Thus, in most of the MP villages, submergence will only be partial2. In marginally affected villages, which is well over half the total in MP, people will not have to relocate completely, but will only need to move back from the river edge3.
(5) The total submerged area will be only 1.65% of the total irrigated area4.
(6) In MP, adivasis represent about 30% of the PAFs, the remaining 70% of PAFs are non-adivasis, many of whom practice relatively advanced agriculture in the Nimar area2.

Forced displacement of citizens, while unfortunate, cannot be seen in isolation. Two issues of extreme relevance are (a) what will happen to the PAFs, and (b) what will be the benefits flowing from the project.

First the benefits. Irrigation to be provided to 1,792,000 hectares of land spread over 12 districts, 62 talukas and 3,393 villages (75% in drought-prone areas) in Gujarat and 73,000 hectares in the arid areas of Barmer and Jalore districts of Rajasthan2, benefiting more than 5 million people3. Drinking Water facilities to 8,215 villages and 135 urban centers in Gujarat2, benefiting 25-30 million people3. Peak power generation of 1450 MW2.

The second and all-important question is: what happens to the PAFs. The government’s R&R policy is generous. The rules for R&R were initially laid out by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) in 1979 and were path-breaking for the time. Later significant improvements to R&R policy were made. The R&R policy recognizes important rights of oustees such as the right to land compensation, the right to be resettled in the SSP command (i.e., irrigated area) if desired, land rights for the landless and “encroachers”, the right of major sons (i.e., sons over 18 years) to be counted as independent families in the land allotment process, and the right to have a say in choosing resettlement sites. Most importantly, the govt. formally recognized the principle that oustees need to be able to improve or at least regain the standard of living they enjoyed prior to displacement. It may be noted that the oustees’ aggregate loss of agricultural land will be about 12,000 hectares (including encroachments), at least half of it poor rain-fed land, while the land to be given is about 50,000 hectares, potentially irrigable land. The productivity ratio between land lost and land provided is estimated to be 1:8 3.

Perception. The generous R&R policy that has evolved is entirely due to the efforts of the NBA. Without the widespread national and international publicity generated by the NBA’s robust anti-dam stand, the govt. would never have agreed to such a generous R&R policy.

The current R&R policy is based primarily on two events, (a) the NWDT award in 1979, and (b) the Gujarat govt.’s R&R policy announced in 1987. The main principles of the policy were established by 1987. Medha Patkar first came to the valley in 1985. It appears that initially she and the NDS (NBA from 1989) were genuinely concerned about R&R, and worked to secure the best possible R&R package. However after a few years’ their priorities changed completely. Around 1989, Medha Patkar and the NBA decided to take an extreme ideological view that large infrastructure projects are inherently and irredeemably bad. Since then, the NBA has argued that rural people are best left as they are, and that adivasis are best suited to a subsistence-level existence “in harmony with nature”, as undisturbed by modernity as possible – a complete rejection of the modern paradigm of development. In this view, fair R&R is neither possible nor desirable. The NBA’s energies would henceforth be redirected from ensuring proper R&R, to publicizing and spreading an anti-large-infrastructure-projects ideology. In this changed scenario, R&R would continue to be of great interest to the NBA – not any more to ensure that it happens in fair and just manner – but to utilize the narrative of “impossibility and undesirability of R&R” to publicize and spread its ideology.

Besides the govt., two other organizations have played an important role in determining R&R policy. One is the World Bank, and the other is a Gujarat-based NGO named Action Research in Community Health and Development (ARCH) Vahini. ARCH Vahini – led by Dr. Anil Patel – was the first NGO to mobilize adivasi villages and demand a fair R&R package for SSP oustees in 1980, and has been deeply involved ever since. For ARCH Vahini the primary issue has always been how to achieve resettlement of the oustees in the best manner possible – independent of any strong pro or anti dam ideology – and it has played a huge role in the successful R&R of oustees in Gujarat. ARCH Vahini organized the adivasis, challenged the govt., moved the courts, and wrote to the World Bank about the affected villagers. It was based on ARCH Vahini’s initiative that the World Bank successfully pressurized the govt. of Gujarat to formulate a new and improved R&R policy in 1987, which met most of ARCH Vahini’s demands (Maharashtra and MP have also significantly improved their own R&R packages, and have come close to, but never fully matched the Gujarat package; Maharashtra and MP oustees can get the Gujarat package if they agree to resettle in Gujarat). Following this development, ARCH Vahini directed its efforts into ensuring the implementation of the new policy, and started working with the govt. towards this aim. In the years to follow, ARCH Vahini would act as a watchdog and as an intermediary between the govt. and affected villagers. Medha Patkar's NDS/NBA, which had worked – and shared a common outlook – with ARCH Vahini till 1987, parted ways. While ARCH Vahini took the view that fair R&R was now possible, the NDS/NBA took the diametrically opposite view that successful R&R was inherently impossible and indeed even undesirable, and it became totally opposed to the dam. In 1989 the Environmental Defense Fund of the USA and other international organizations joined the battle on the side of the NBA. Since then the NBA and its supporters have spent much energy in successfully spreading the anti-large-infrastructure-projects message across major cities of the world. This included sending activists to lobby on Capitol Hill (the U.S. Congress) to pressurize the World Bank to withdraw from the project – making it one of the few Indian organizations to ever directly request the U.S. govt. to intervene in a domestic Indian political dispute.

Since 1989, Medha Patkar and the NBA have not made any sincere efforts to improve R&R policy for SSP oustees. If anything, they have actually tried to undermine R&R efforts, as part of their effort to undermine all aspects of the Sardar Sarovar Project. But credit where credit is due - the widespread publicity that the NBA created has generated some awareness among educated middle-class city people that R&R is an important component of infrastructure projects. And for this, Medha Patkar and the NBA deserve considerable credit.

Perception. The R&R policy is good on paper, but the govt. is not serious about actually implementing it.

There is some truth to this, but it is far from being the complete truth. As has been documented by the Center for Social Studies Surat, despite hiccups, R&R has generally been carried out successfully in Gujarat.

Corruption and apathy on the part of govt. officials are problems that exist throughout India, and the SSP is no exception. While it would be great if corruption were to be wiped out completely, we all know that it is not going to happen tomorrow. In spite of corruption, the govt. does do work. It would be foolish to take the position that the govt. should cease all activity until such time as corruption is completely wiped out. In fact, civil society groups, or NGOs, can, and do play an important role in making govt. action more effective. This can be done by acting in a “watchdog” role, by acting as a liaison between the govt. and citizens, by educating people about their rights and entitlements, and by offering suggestions and constructive criticism. This is what ARCH Vahini has done. The Gujarat govt. set up Land Purchase Committees (LPCs) consisting of representatives of SSP oustees, NGOs, govt. officials and elected representatives. These committees were charged with identifying land for the oustees, negotiating the purchase, and making sure that land parcels of at least two hectares were allotted to each family. ARCH Vahini (and other NGOs) played a very constructive role in such committees, and in other R&R related activities. On the other hand, the NBA took a completely different stand. Rather then participating in R&R activities as a civil-society group aiming to improve its effectiveness, the NBA – driven by its extreme ideological stand – actually tried to disrupt R&R by holding back information and occasionally even spreading misinformation among oustees. The NBA also encouraged villagers to actively resist R&R related activities, such as surveys, etc. (In recent years the NBA has also taken up a constructive “watchdog” role in a very limited manner).

The following quotes give an indication of how the NBA has hindered R&R by spreading misinformation.
(1) Dr. Anil Patel of ARCH Vahini writes: “As resettlement work was in full swing … accounts started trickling in, in the beginning of 1991, that tribals in Maharashtra and MP were completely in the dark about the new R&R policy of Gujarat and the true magnitude of its implementation. In these villages, the NBA was vigorously propagating information that was in complete variance with the real situation.” 5
(2) In Maharashtra many PAFs were to be settled in a degraded forest area known as Taloda. However the govt. had held up its release, against the wishes of NGOs. Medha Patkar, speaking before her conversion into an anti-dam zealot, had stated in 1987 that denuded forest land “available and acceptable to the (SSP) oustees … is not being strongly demanded by the State authorities” 6. Part of the land was released in 1990. However, as Dr. Anil Patel of ARCH Vahini writes, “the discovery that really shocked the tribals living in the interior villages of Maharashtra was made when they first contacted us in April 1992, and when we informed them that the Taloda forest land had been released as far back as June 1990. The NBA had kept them in the dark about this, and … had even made written presentations on their behalf to the authorities, stating [falsely] that the tribals did not want the Taloda land. The tribals were stunned. The [NBA’s] manipulation of tribal demands and aspirations was as shocking as it was revealing.” 5
(3) Since 1983 activists from an NGO called Multiple Action Research Group (MARG) had been visiting the project area, mainly in MP, trying to study the situation. However, the visits stopped in 1989. As Vasudha Dhagamwar of MARG writes, “MARG stopped going to the valley as we were told by NBA activists at the highest level that we were not welcome. They did not want people to be informed about the resettlement offered under the NWDT Award, as this information would probably induce the potential oustees to think of accepting resettlement, which in turn would weaken the movement.” 7
(4) Researcher Roxanne Hakim has produced an enlightening study of an adivasi village going through the R&R process. She writes, “The differences in response to R&R by different groups are largely due to the difference in the sort of information given to them by different NGOs. In the case of Mapali … ARCH Vahini was instrumental in making them aware of the situation. On the other hand, the village Bamni, across the river from Mapali and with which Mapali has close kin ties, has supporters of the NBA. In both cases … the group’s own values and belief system played a smaller role in conditioning their attitude to R&R. This was essentially a new concept to them and they were therefore open to accepting guidance from outside agents.” 8

So while it is true that the govt. must be held responsible for tardy progress on R&R implementation, the NBA must be held at least partly responsible as well.

Perception. The NBA truly represents the poor, mainly dalits and adivasis living in the valley.

The NBA’s support base in the valley is in Maharashtra and MP – not in Gujarat. In Gujarat and Maharashtra the oustees are mostly adivasis, but the situation in MP is very different – about 70% of the PAFs are non-adivasi2, and those who support the NBA are mainly from the politically well-connected and relatively prosperous land-owning Patidar caste. So, while it is true that a substantial portion of the NBA’s support base consists of poor adivasis, probably around half or more of its supporters (among oustees) belong to the prosperous Patidar community living in the Nimar area of MP. Almost all dalits (and landless laborers in general) view the NBA with suspicion – they see R&R as a development opportunity and a chance to become landowners.

Amita Baviskar (who holds a romantic and positive view of the NBA) writes of the Patidars of Nimar. “The Andolan’s strength in Nimar is concentrated among the Patidars … who figure among India’s politically powerful middle and rich peasantry. Although their lands have always been fertile, their productivity rose tremendously in the early 1970s after electrification. The fields … are now abundantly irrigated with water drawn from electric pumps, [which has] allowed farmers to grow remunerative [cash] crops. The Nimar of today … has enjoyed post-electrification and post-irrigation prosperity. People reminisce that earlier eating wheat was a special treat. Tea was drunk only in the homes of the rich; no one had seen sugar. Now all these things are commonplace. …The Andolan has dealt with the anomaly of Nimar … by showcasing the hill adivasis and downplaying the Patidars.” 9

The Supreme Court in its 2000 verdict quotes a 1996 report of the HMS Gour University, Sagar, regarding Nimar. “Though, these villages comprise a significant population of tribals and people of weaker sections, a majority of them will not be victims of displacement. Instead, they will gain from shifting. …These people are living either as laborers or marginal farmers. The status of oustee will make them the owner of two hectares of land and a house. In fact, it is the land-owning class which is opposing the construction of dam. …The land-owners are presently [taking undue advantage of] cheap labour.” 2 This is also borne out by Amita Baviskar’s observation. “Landowners [in Nimar] employ daily wage laborers, mostly adivasis, who are paid Rs.12 to Rs.15 every day, even though the legal minimum wage … is Rs.25. …A couple of years ago a conscientious Sub-Divisional Magistrate … vigorously started enforcing minimum wage regulations. Patidar politicking, using many of the organizational skills learnt through the Andolan, was instrumental in getting the official transferred” 9. Further, she says. “Landless laborers who constitute 40% of a village such as Kadmal, and who belong mainly to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, are markedly absent from the protests and from the ranks of local [NBA] activists.” 9. Dalit columnist Chandrabhan Prasad is scathing in his criticism of the NBA. “NBA is known as Patidar's Land Bachao Andolan in the valley, Rehabilitation Andolan in Delhi, and Save Environment Movement in London and elsewhere in Europe. NBA talks of Gandhism, it opposes modernity. It glorifies the past, in the same manner as the RSS does. For the Dalits, the past was more cruel, local institutions are more oppressive. Modernity has given Dalits some relief. …Arundhati Roy and Medha Patkar represent the most ugly face of the Brahman world.”10 Moreover, as Gail Omvedt has pointed out while arguing in favor of modernity in her excellent article about the NBA, “Economists have even argued that the average wage for agricultural and basic manual laborers at the time of the Arthashastra represented the same in money terms as the average wage during colonial times; and it has not changed very much in the 50 years of independence” 11. No wonder the poverty-stricken and exploited landless laborers wish to escape from the traditional social structure.

It is clearly a mistaken belief that the NBA truly represents the poor, mainly dalits and adivasis, living in the valley.

For my views on the larger question of development, see here.

[Added Later] Do read these excellent articles (link and link) by well-known Indian activist Madhu Kishwar. Had these pieces appeared before I wrote my article, I would have quoted from them.


1. As found by extensive studies carried out by the Center for Social Studies Surat (click here).
2. Supreme Court of India, 2000. Narmada Bachao Andolan vs. Union of India. (click here).
3. Blinkhorn, Thomas A. and Smith, William T., 1994. “India’s Narmada: River of Hope” in Fisher, William F., ed., Towards Sustainable Development. M.E. Sharp, London.
4. Sardar Sarovar Nigam Ltd. FAQ. (click here).
5. Patel, Anil. 1997. “Resettlement Politics and Tribal Interests” in Dreze, Jean, Samson, Meera and Singh, Satyajit, eds., The Dam and the Nation. Oxford Univ. Press, Delhi.
6. Verghese, B.G. 1994. Winning the Future. Konark, New Delhi.
7. Dhagamwar, Vasudha. 1997. “The NGO Movements in the Narmada Valley: Some Reflections” in Dreze, Jean, Samson, Meera and Singh, Satyajit, eds., The Dam and the Nation. Oxford Univ. Press, Delhi.
8. Hakim, Roxanne P. 1997. “Resettlement and Rehabilitation in the Context of ‘Vasava’ Culture” in Dreze, Jean, Samson, Meera and Singh, Satyajit, eds., The Dam and the Nation. Oxford Univ. Press, Delhi.
9. Baviskar, Amita. 1995. In the Belly of the River. Oxford Univ. Press, Delhi.
10. “An Interview with Chandra Bhan Prasad” in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and his People, web-site. (click here).
11. Omvedt, Gail. An Open Letter to Arundhati Roy. (click here).


Blogger Lok-adhikar said...

Very objective and well-researched article!

Dissent by those who do not agree to something is an essential element of Democracy.

The main issue is how, in the name of democratic dissent, NGOs like NBA are trying to use, abuse and manipulate the democratic system, its institutions including the Judiciary and even the people.

It is necessary for right-thinking people to expose those who are trying to sabotage the country's progress for their own ends.

Objective writers like you should work to enlighten as many people as possible to understand the real issues.

April 13, 2006 2:45 AM  
Anonymous Prema Iyer said...

From what you have written above, it stengthens the view that NBA has its own agenda and even people spearheading the same are not averse to lying or half truths to fool the people.

The NBA agenda is certainly against national interest and the general public as well as the government and parliamentarians should see through their nefarious plan.

It is high time the TV channels who are always so zealous about exposes, expose such NGOs.

April 13, 2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Kuldeep said...

see here to know about activities of Medha Patkar & Co.

April 13, 2006 11:37 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Thanks a lot for the compliments !!

It is indeed unfortunate that the Indian media have not made any effort to verify the NBA's claims, or ask any difficult questions, such as: if R&R in some villages is not fully satisfactory, to what extent is it caused by the NBA's own anti-R&R activities ?

One organization that supplies balanced information on water resources is the Indian Water Resources Society. Especially good is their pamphlet "Brief Rebuttal of Unravelling Bhakra".

April 13, 2006 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pl see

April 14, 2006 5:50 AM  
Blogger Synical said...

"R&R has generally been carried out successfully" is a phrase that keeps recurring in your post. Well, your article is more telling in what it doesnt say...that the rehabilitation has meant living in completely unfertile lands with no potential of good agricultural produce whatever.
See a documentary called 'WORDS ON WATER', if u are genuinely interested in knowing about the issue.

And, btw, next time, dont complain about the growing slums in the city. O, but here, I am generalising and mixing two completely different processes together...I am so sorry to do so!!

We seem to see 'displaced people' as something to be pitied. Nobody wants pity. Maybe, We will never feel for the NBA cause, because it is not our homes drowning under water.

Secondly, the large dams will and do remain an issue till rehabilitation is looked after. Stop thinking of displaced people as some kind of 'collateral damage'. A plan like the Narmada's is not a Bhakra Nangal. This is a series of mini dams, on the same river. Hence, more the number of displaced people.

Thirdly, just look at the way the govt is hell bent on stubbing the dissent. Picking up Medha Patkar in the middle of the night, and keeping her in jail like conditions? Why such a harsh reaction for so "small" a matter?

April 14, 2006 9:45 AM  
Anonymous kuldeep said...

I think synical has completely missed the issues, perhaps, because of lack of complete background.
No one is pitying the displaced people and even the Supreme Court is seized of the matter. The R&R issue is receving the attention it rightly deserves.

And if Medha Patkar is picked up, it is justified as her dissent is going way beyond what is tolerable in a democracy because she is playing up with the media to generate sympathies from people who are not fully aware. She just keeps on feeding people with half truths and untruths.

April 14, 2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Synical, the phrase "R&R has generally been carried out successfully" is based on reports from organizations such as ARCH Vahini, Center for Social Studies (CSS), Surat, and researchers such as by Roxanne Hakim. ARCH Vahini has worked extensively with oustees in Gujarat. CSS has - since the early 80s - conducted the most extensive studies of oustees and has produced numerous reports. Roxanne Hakim has studied an adivasi village both before and after resettlement. Sure, the situation is not entirely rosy. There are problems as documented in the above reports, but they are not insurmountable, and are being addressed. In most cases incomes have increased, along with improved access to health care and education (anti-dam activists have pointed out - with some validity - that increased income is meaningless since the adivasis originally had a non-monetized economy). In some cases crops have failed because the soil is fertile but different from what they were used to. After transitioning to appropriate crops, yields have been larger than earlier. This in an ongoing process. As the oustees get better adjusted to the new area, their situation is likely to improve even further. The NBA can help greatly in this adjustment process, but it does not appear to be interested in doing so. My question to the NBA is this: do you really want to R&R to happen successfully, or do you want R&R to fail and oustees to suffer so that you can proclaim 'large dams are bad'. The NBA's actions indicate that deep in their hearts they want R&R to fail and oustees to suffer.

It is true that some dam oustees have ended up in slums, but a much much larger number of people end up in slums because they migrate from villages that are afflicted by drought or just a general lack of economic opportunity. The situation in these villages can be greatly improved by irrigation, electricity, etc. So while building a dam displaces people, NOT building a dam can displace even more people.

Any action that the govt. takes will have upsides and downsides (true of life in general). If the govt. builds a hospital some people benefit, but it has to spend money, which means it has less money left for schools. The idea of having a democratic society, where everybody's voice counts, is that decisions can be taken in an equitable manner. It does not mean that there will never be any downsides to any decision. It also means that no individual or group has veto power in the decision making process.

I doubt that Medha Parkar's arrest indicates that the govt. is "hell bent on stubbing dissent". Had it been so, it could have simply outlawed the NBA and put Medha Patkar and co. in jail long ago. And why would it send senior ministers to meet her and reason with her ? But I agree with your general sentiment that the govt. must be very careful while arresting protestors, and it should be done only after careful consideration.

April 14, 2006 6:21 PM  
Anonymous an. said...

see also

April 15, 2006 2:17 AM  
Blogger Atlantean said...

Thank you Sid. You must have taken a lot of pain to produce such a well researched article.

I think the problem with this issue is that it has a long history. People, especially the young, do not have a proper grasp of the history of this issue. Therefore, carried away by emotion, they tend to make quick conclusions based on what may have been told to them by others who are equally misinformed or by people who spread false information.

This weakness is exactly what is being exploited by Medha Patkar now as she's performing her fast. The media also is helping her do this in a big way, inadvertently or otherwise, and this is bad.

Well, maybe we shouldnt put too much blame on the media. After all, they're doing their job in that they're just covering an issue but to what extent are they doing their job? I feel they're not asking some questions they ought to ask.

Prema Iyer pointed out, "It is high time the TV channels who are always so zealous about exposes, expose such NGOs." Instead, the TV channels only seem to take a sympathetic stand towards them.

April 16, 2006 2:09 AM  
Blogger Bombayite said...

Medha Patkar is doing what Datta Samat did to the mills of Bombay...f*cked it big time!!

The farmers and Adivasis should be taken care of and so whould NGO's like NBA... else this dam debate will lag on for another 20-30 years and our children and grand children will continue the same debate....

April 16, 2006 5:45 PM  
Blogger Bombay Addict said...

Brilliant. We need more bloggers like this who back up their opinion with hard data. As for the media, well, what can one say ? These are guys who devote as much front page space to Salman Khan as they do to the Meerut fire tragedy. TV channels? Less said the better. It's great that the Indian blogosphere has guys like you presenting such level of detail. I mean one might or might not agree with your view, but the data you have speaks its own story and cannot be ignored. Btw - copyright your stuff, else you never know when some over-zealous reporter "borrows" from it.


April 17, 2006 1:48 AM  
Blogger tejal said...

Did u read the petition signed by over 700 engineers and scientists? It challenges the claims of the amount of benefits that the SSP engineers have claimed and they have had to reduce their claims from Rs. 2500 crores worth of electricity to Rs 110 crores worth of electricity. So how believable their claims of "benefits" are is pretty obvious. Also, the Bargi dam, one of the first ones to be completed irrigates just 5% of the land that it had claimed it would irrigate which means that today it has submerged a lot mre land than it irrigates. Even with the "pro-development" perspective (if the opposite view is "anti development" - which is non-sense), the fact that large dams are unsustainable in the long run is also being brought to light. Unravelling Bhakra is a book about the myts surrounding that epitome of "progress". Anothr book is Peter McCully's book where he dissects the engineering, scince and logic that goes behind the building of these huge structures. Thatbook talks a lot about dams all overe the world and what has become of them and what kind of destruction they left in their wake. In India, all these things are coupled with the fact that till date approximately 50 million people (govt's figures) have been displced by dams (many of them more than once) and hardly any of them have been displaced before the NBA brought this issue to the notice of the public/government. Anothere such mega project that is planned is the River Linking project and there is a preliminary study of the Ken-Betwa link on their website. When u read the study, u will see how little regard is given to R&R and its barely even mentioned. MP will seeanother bunch of people dispaced by that project and the Govt has already said it does not have the land for rehab. So i guess its going to be another long drawn out fight there. But the politics of huge prohjects and the fact that they mean huge money for the people involved wipes off any logical arguement against them. You have laid out a very thorough arguement and unlike in some of your cited sources, yours seems to be civil. However your sources are all one sided and I urge you to read the book Silenced Rivers by Patrick MacCully.

April 17, 2006 5:48 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

tejal, I have limited this post to the R&R issue only. I plan to write another article in the future in which I hope to explore the anti-large-dams anti-large-projects ideology (Part II). For now, I would like to point you to this excellent article "A Brief Rebuttal of 'Unraveling Bhakra'(link).

April 17, 2006 8:00 AM  
Blogger tejal said...

Siddhartha - i couldnt open the link, it says error processing page.

April 17, 2006 8:47 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

tejal, go to the web-site

On the left-hand side there is a choice "Brief Rebuttal of Unravelling Bhakra". Click on that.

April 17, 2006 8:58 AM  
Blogger Hitendra said...

Congratulations for your commendable resaerch. You have given a strong voice to those in India who support development. At the time when supporting NBA is a fashion, blogs like yours matter.

April 17, 2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger Nirav said...

Brilliant! Really great research work done. Now, the question is, why have the authorities and the government not done anything to correct the media perception

April 17, 2006 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why cant the gujarat government put widespread advertisements about the real agenda of NBA along with the facts and figures which is as wellreasearched as in this article. The media and the central government are really taking the the us for aride. lets get realistic and turn around. is amir khan listening has he even read this

April 18, 2006 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Dr. J.C.Dutt said...

It is time for everyone to realize true colors of NBA, and call the bluff of their phony supporters.
1. Over the last few weeks, they have been repeating the same arguments against big dams etc. all of which have been dealt with at the Government since 1986 and the Supreme Court since 1994 and comprehensively rejected. Still, by repeating the same, they managed to find sympathizers who do not have an idea of events so far.
2. It is their habit to try and drown the voice of reason as was found when one of the activists in an interview on tv channel did not allow a senior advocate to speak by her hysterical interruptions.
3. Arundhati Rao said that since an advertisement was released showing support of distinguished industrialists, the project was meant for the rich and not for the poor!
4. Another activist, Himanshu Thakkar in another tv interview, besides repeating old rejected arguments, said that the project would only benefit rich farmers!! This was in spite of the fact that over 95% of the farmers are holders of small plots.
5. Medha Patkar stated that the Gujarat CM was responsible for the post Godhra riots and was communal. It is clear that this was just a calumny which has nothing to do with the development project of Narmada.
6. NBA have been known to be instigating the affected persons not to accept rehabilitation.
7. The newest supporter of NBA, one Aamir Khan with a bloated ego, grandly declared:“Along with Supreme Court, I will also keep a watch on the rehab programme for the next three months”. It appears that he is trying to become a super protector of the people.
8. Medha went on fast when an application to Supreme Court was already made. Hoping to get a favourable order, her lawyers asked for early hearing but this was denied and the Court maintained the date of 17th April. This upset her calculations forcing her to continue fast for much longer. Ultimately, she gave up even when the Court did not stop work immediately.
9. In a brazen attenpt to pressurize the Court and the PM, their lawyer Bhushan publicly expressed disappointment with the Court order and Arundhati said that Court and PM were not taking the right decision.
10. Arundhati even used profanity in front of the tv camera, which had to be blocked by the channel.

Many who have experience of NBA realize that they are ready to adopt any tactics including abusing constitutional authorities to achieve their goal and are bringing a bad name to bona fide NGOs.

April 18, 2006 7:18 AM  
Blogger Synical said...

Mr.Shome, I return to the main point of criticism of your article and that is rehabilitation (not that I moved away from it). Thanks to RTI,THE HINDU of APRIL 17th,2006 has in its op-ed page, the current situation of rehab in the participant states. This was the most recent report, which was presented by the commitee consisting of Saiffudin Soz, Minister of Water Resources among others. I would genuinely want u to read it and comment on it.As you said, Rehab is a continous process. And, if this was the progress or the trend of work done till now,in the initial years, when zeal apparently makes the files move faster, I hope you can see where rehab is headed.

And as far as many who feel that an emotional response is precluding our sense of objectivity, I would be extremely happy, if they can prove, in all that i have written, exactly how ill informed I appear to be. Yes, I really am inviting you to constructively crticize my comments. But, make sure, you leave behind links, If you genuinely wish my opinion to become as informed as you wish it to be...

April 18, 2006 9:05 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Synical, as you correctly point out, the current state of R&R in M.P. (not Gujarat or Maharashtra) is unacceptable. I agree with the Supreme Court’s view that R&R MUST be completed for dam construction to proceed.

The point I have been trying to make is that wherever R&R has been poor, the NBA itself has been largely responsible for this sorry state of affairs. They have done everything in their power (including the use of underhand tactics, such as spreading misinformation) to obstruct successful R&R. They have been clamoring that R&R is "impossible" - and then working to ensure the fulfillment of their own prophecy so they can proclaim triumphantly, "We told you so; large dams are bad". They have cynically manipulated people’s sentiments (including the natural sadness that comes from losing one’s home) to further their ideology that "large projects are bad". Also note that supporters of the NBA such as Arundhati Roy, etc., don't seem to protest (at least as energetically as against the SSP) about adivasis being displaced by the creation of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, even though there are millions of such people (link). This shows that they are driven more by a "anti-large-projects" ideology than by a "pro-adivasi" ideology.

I think if the NBA wants R&R to happen successfully, it can do lot. It does have substantial support of oustees in M.P. It can work with the M.P. govt. along the lines of ARCH Vahini in Gujarat to make sure that R&R is done in the best possible manner. I sincerely hope that this is what will happen.

April 18, 2006 10:23 AM  
Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

Some reactions to you, here. Best wishes.

April 18, 2006 11:49 AM  
Blogger tejal said...

there are hundreds of organizations working on different issues and you can identify with one or the other, chose to work with/like one or the other. But that does not make the others work less important as you seem to be suggesting (work like Arch Vahini). NBA has been very important in giving the struggle of the Adivasis a political face, bringing it on the political agenda which the other organizations have failed to do. These struggles need to become political, and the system needs to be questioned otherwise there will be a long drawn out fight by some NGO at every project where people are being disregarded. When farmers commit suicides, its not enough to say that they will be compensated, the systemic forces that lead to those suicides need to be attacked and changes made. Questioning big dam/projects is happening all around the world and problems of big dams are being faced everywhere today (please refer ot Silenced Rivers). So sticking to the old "dams are temples" funda is more archaic and anti-progress than questionin it is. the NBA is doing very important work which needs to be done at all levels. one cant stay always just keep making superficial arrangements within the system which may crumble very soon, at some point we have to question the system and attack the root of the problems that are largely due to administrative nd polic failures.

April 18, 2006 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Prerna said...

I have read through the article and various comments. With reference to last comment of Tejal, it seems that she is typically following the NBA line of not giving up on the anti-big dam posture. She has completely and simply ignored the blogger's article and comments by others.This question has been debated extensively and as far as Narmada project is concerned, it is already settled. The Supreme Court which considered all aspects has given a final verdict in 2000 and the project is already in implementation stage.

As NBA and people like Tejal still persist with the Big dam argument in context of Narmada project, it shows their bent of mind to stop the project, regardless of the cost to the country which ultimately falls on the people.

For the future they can keep on debating till kingdom come. But for the present, if they have true interests of the adivasis and other affected people in mind, they should co-operate and not try to obstruct R&R and stop the project by all means fair or foul.

I wish the blogger would close all comments on big dam etc. for this article.

April 18, 2006 9:15 PM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Dilip, first of all let me say that it is an honor for me that you have read my blog and commented on it. I may not agree with you on everything, but I have immense respect for your work.

About the 40,827 number. I’m sorry for any confusion. I should have made it more clear where exactly I got it from. One of the reasons why the number of PAFs has been changing may be because the definition of PAFs has been changing. Initially only landholders were defined as PAFs. Then “encroachers” as well. Then major sons (i.e., those above 18 years) as separate PAFs. And the cut-off-date for major sons (i.e., 18 on such-and-such date) has been relaxed a couple of times. Probably the total number of affected villages is a better number to use.

The idea of pointing out successful R&R in Gujarat was to point out that R&R is not inherently impossible as the NBA sometimes makes it to be. It can be done in M.P. as well if the govt. as well as civil society groups take it up earnestly, especially now that the media, RTI, etc. can play a positive role. Note that though the number of affected villages is much larger in M.P. than in Gujarat, many of them will only be partially (some only marginally) affected, and also note that many M.P. oustees are relatively prosperous non-adivasis farmers who are already well-connected to the mainstream. All I am saying is that R&R in M.P. is not impossible. I also feel that the NBA has actively tried to obstruct R&R activities, and is itself partly responsible for the sorry state of R&R in M.P. today. They have been clamoring that R&R is "impossible" - and then working to ensure the fulfillment of their own prophecy so they can proclaim triumphantly, "We told you so; large dams are bad". I sincerely hope that in future the NBA will work with the M.P. govt. to make sure that R&R is done in the best possible manner.

For my views on development see here.

Prerna, as of now I don't plan to delete any comments, unless there is something abusive, etc.

April 18, 2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

On a totally unrelated note, someone I spent the morning with showed me a photograph of you. That's Abodh Aras of Welfare for Stray Dogs. We spent the morning roaming Dongri (we've done three such walks together over the last week).

April 20, 2006 1:20 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Hi Dilip, thats really amazing. Abodh and I have known each other since the early 90s in Pune when we lived in the same flat complex. I think he and the WSD are doing an incredible job working to solve the stray dog problem in a humanitarian manner. It is great to know that you are part of this effort as well.

April 20, 2006 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Suhas said...

IndiaTV showed today in Breaking News, some details and visuals of how NBA is
trying to sabotgae R&R work.

Someone needs to really look at their affairs. IndiaTV also said that in 2004 the Gujarat High Court had asked govt. to look into their activities but nothing seems to have been done.

Does anyone have details of this?

April 20, 2006 9:21 AM  
Blogger tanvi said...

I may not be as well versed with the issue as you are but your claim that theres nothing wrong wih the R&R has been belied by the supreme court judgement on the issue. You may also refer to the confidential group of ministers report printed in the Hindu on ground findings by the visiting ministers. I agree big dams cannot be done away with and we must not take the ideological extreme of rejecting modernisation in toto. In the narmada case, claims of benefits the dam would render have been questioned and deemed exaggerated by a good number of experts, environmentalists and so on.I dont say they are right and those who support the dam are lying. But we cant take any thing on paper as fact. If everything was fine in the valley as promised I wonder what made so many poor villagers leave their homes and come to Delhi shouting slogans. Surely it was not a hobby but of course can be called an staged excercise though I dont think so.About the movement I will say it must get some credit for giving people affected by the dam a voice in the political/public space. Medha taking a fast may not go down with many of us however the way an individual chooses to protest cant really be questioned. The NBA people were protesting for some time in Jantar Mantar neglected by sections of the media and the government. The fast did help them get some public focus. About the NBA being a farce and getting symathy of those who know little of the issue, well if you dont have a degree on politics doesn't means you cant participate in the political process. The NBA is trying to garner public support and it has every right to do so just like the pro-dam voice like yours. There is no coercion involved.
NBA is against national interst is rhetorical. How do you define national interest? Who constitutes the nation? Those who have been displaced or those who get water from the dam? How much dissent is tolerable in a democracy is a self defeating question. As long as you are not getting violent or damaging public property I dont see any sense in limiting dissent.All said and done the dam is there is a reality the need is to put the R&R house in order. I am no big fan of Medha but she is the voice of the displaced people we cant completely disregard her as long as the people rally behind her. On Aamir joining the protest I think celebrities often damage a movemebt by joining in rather then help by diverting attention from the issue however burning his efigies was going to extremes. He is a citizen like any of us and has a right to speech and expression. Your article was extremely well researched the best I found on the issue but had to say this stuff. Though you will notice most of it is not on article per se but the discussion here.

April 20, 2006 9:57 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

tanvi, I never claimed that "theres nothing wrong wih the R&R" in M.P. I did say that it has been carried out reasonably well in Gujarat. Here is a quote from my article "while it is true that the govt. must be held responsible for tardy progress on R&R implementation, the NBA must be held at least partly responsible as well". The main point that I have been trying to make is that in my view the NBA itselt has been actively obstructing R&R activities, and is itself partly responsible for the sorry state of R&R in M.P. today. For my views on the larger question of development and what I think is in the national interest see here.

April 20, 2006 11:58 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

On the issue of "what kind of development do we want" do read this excellent article by Gail Omvedt.

April 20, 2006 5:17 PM  
Blogger tanvi said...

I am glad you agree all's not well on the R&R front so it means the NBA people are not protesting for no reason and gives justification for their existence. How responsible the NBA is for poor R&R in MP is contentious. I dont see a reason to blame them squarely. In fact its their protest and Medha's controversial fast which has focussed attention on poor R&R measures taken which have beeen confirmed by the ministers report published in the hindu. Any more ideas on it?

April 21, 2006 12:32 PM  
Anonymous C.N. Gupta said...

tanvi is just trying to clutch at good faith comments of the blogger. Obviously, there are lacunae in R&R implementation that is typical of all bureaucratic handling.

However, this can be hardly used to justify the activities of NBA. It is no use indulging in useless questions like 'what is national interest'just to give it the appearance of being an intellectual debate and create a smokescreen.

Tanvi is right when she says that she is not well vesrsed (much like Aamir Khan) on the subject. A careful reading of the whole article and all the reader comments would have given us a better perspective.

Everyone understands that it is definitely not national interest to keep insisting on stopping narmada project that is for the larger good of the country. The only thing to concentrate on now is to implement R&R vigorously but without the obstructions and antics of NBA whose sole aim is that the project is completely abandoned. They are not ready to and will not settle for anything less and they will prove their capacity to do harm in the future not only for this project but for any other development work THEY think runs counter to their own agenda. Mark my words.

April 22, 2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger tanvi said...

Dear Mr gupta I brought up national interest as in an earlier comment because someone had commented that NBA is against national interest before.Infact I said the term is empty rhetoric earlier You used the same terminology yourself "Everyone understands that it is definitely not national interest to keep insisting on stopping narmada project that is for the larger good of the country..". Why the double standards? I am not well versed I said so myself because I find it better then saying I know everything and mark my words like you did. I did not agree with some points here and I said so. I did not seek to clutch at anything and infact I said Siddhart's blog was the best on the issue earlier. You seem to have a problem with NBA at the same time you appear to know the most about their hidden agenda. Good. However I will reteirate my words that NBA did help put focus on R&R in spite of using antics you so despise. The fast is anyday a better way of protesting then setting fire to public property or calling a bandh. My comment was for sidhhart and the earlier discussion in which you did not participate.

April 23, 2006 11:36 AM  
Blogger tanvi said...

PS I wish mr gupta had given any original arguements to counter what I said then citing my not being well versed.
SIDDHARTH I must say one thing that sets your blog apart is that you have given links and sources to situate your claims that adds to their credibility.
However For those who think credibility comes only after studying an issue to its roots or not being very 'well versed' in something takes away the right to have an opinion on it is like saying dont vote if you have not studied democracy in class.
Its a logical fallacy when you discredit an opinion by attributing some irrelevant detail to the person giving it like not knowing enough. its called AD-HOMINEM. For more the link is

April 23, 2006 3:55 PM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

tanvi, you are right that everybody's opinion is very important in a democratic setting, irrespective of how well or poorly versed they are. There should be a balance. Engineers, economists, officials, etc., who know a lot of details should not say "you are not well versed, so your opinion doesn't count". On the other hand people should not say "engineers, officials, etc. are giving us so many numbers, estimates, etc., they are only trying to hoodwink us." In fact people should try to learn more, try to be better-versed, and try to independently verify both sides' claims. Even though you claim to be "not well versed" you have taken the trouble to read this (and other) blogs, and I suspect, follow media coverage, etc. Surely you are much better-versed now than say 2 months back. Obviously you agree that it is a good thing to be better-versed, to know more, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this blog in the first place.

April 24, 2006 12:18 AM  
Blogger tanvi said...

I couldn't agree more Siddhart there is no quest greater then learning and of course there is no end to it. Problem is people don't answer your arguements but try casting aspersions on your knowledge while ideally if they disagree instead of commenting on your well versity they should give conter arguements. Thats the only way to prove or dissaprove a point not by citing irrelevancies that the person is not well versed enough.

April 24, 2006 1:40 AM  
Anonymous Mansukhani said...

See my comments to the post "What's development"

April 25, 2006 10:30 AM  
Blogger Sujai said...

Good research. It was nice to see this article here. Though I have faint ideas on the topic I did not have as many facts. It was good to see some of the issues that you raised. I have some of my opinions on Arundhati Roy and Medha Patkar at my blog.

April 29, 2006 7:29 PM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Do read these excellent articles (link and link) by well-known Indian feminist Madhu Kishwar. Had these pieces appeared before I wrote my article, I would have quoted from them.

May 03, 2006 5:56 PM  
Blogger samarth said...

Sid and Gail Omvedit both are writing far more reasonably and without arrogance of ‘greater’ intellectuals like Miss Roy. She simply brooks no argument and her omniscient knowledge is far wiser then combine debated analysis of Gujarat govt., Suprime court or any water resource management body. They have caused the whole nation an immense damage with their one point agenda. Let me tell you my first hand experience. I have been brought up in Rajkot.This madam from Kerala simply does not acknowledge our water thirst arising out of a scant 12 to 15 inches of rain (in a normal year! Don’t bother a drought year). Let alone rural areas, in my own city I have witnessed many years when whole households have strived back breakingly to fetch waters from the govt. sent tankers at 4 a.m. in the morning. I have drunk well waters which is so hard that remaining thirsty would sometime appear better option! Same bucket of water would be used thrice-sponging the body. (Bathe?!?!), then washing the clothes and ultimately mopping the floor. While visiting Bombay, I would keep on drinking glass upon glass of water just because of its soft sweet taste. I would seat in window and watch falling rain lustily for hours envying Bombay’s 80” + rain. And now? For all her mispropaganda (She has written somewhere ‘That billboard -Saurashtra, Kutcha”) about not reaching Narmada water to us…It is already there, even if through pumping so far.and we have already seen the transformation. Our water salinity has dropped ( ask any Ahmedabad citizen).This supplement(yes it is only supplement so far thanks to NBA’s efforts)has already started changing the whole life standards of middleclass. and at least we are not cursed to see impotently millions and millions gallons of sweet water of Narmada flow wastefully into Arabian Sea so as to allow 35000,50000,(or 70000?) families of Narmada valley to improve their bargain positions. You see, they own Narmada River. While stalling work for so many years they have literally broken the backs of millions of women in arid Saurashtra, North Gujarat in condemning them to wander miles in search of WATER. Thanks to their single mindedness, today I am ashamed that Gujarat is part of Union of India.

May 04, 2006 1:23 PM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

samarth, thank you very much for sharing your experiences regarding water shortages in Gujarat.

May 04, 2006 4:34 PM  
Blogger balaji said...

nice work sid atlast there is someone to support the dam construction.just because someone has gone on hunger strike it doesnt mean that we have to support them, i think sid has given us detailed facts to support this view but i would like to look at the political angle ,some of the media and other leftist organisations have made it a point that they would oppose anything which the narendra modi's govt is doing.india is a country whre more than 50000 farmers have committed suicide last year due to the non availability of adequate water for their crops water management is the need of the hour more over dams would also act as a barrier to floods as well, its time or such 15th century people to grow up and accept the fact that dams are good for us in the long run,the construction of dam shouldnt be seen in parallel with the r&r activity(whiich seems to be the topic of discussion here).morever my question is if medha patkar could go on a hunger strike for few thousands of villagers surely she could immolate herself for the sake of million kashmiri pundits who have fled from kashmir simce 1990 .if you ask them they wouls that they are "progressive leftist" since when was supporting a dam was "regressive" and supporting terrorists is "progressive" the media has portrayed medha as some sort of heroine not to mention the film stars looking for some cheap publicity .when would these fools realise that the development india is dependent on the way we manage our scarce resources , we have far serious issue in our country like starvation deaths , farmer suicides ,terrorism etc.get your priorities right. nice work sid

May 06, 2006 11:02 PM  
Blogger Lunatic said...

Superbly well researched article. Hats off to u sir. Keep it going.

May 30, 2006 9:16 PM  
Blogger papi said...

The complaint against it all.Where we were capable of weaving a tradition that would need a thousand years and more to last itself out (which is the very conception of efficiency), we need now to see
it in this one life.A mere generation.A change as nature suggests,say,
as a mutation that shows promise of success, takes a good million
years to test its case out.Do we have any grounds at all for asking
for achievements as we have standardised the word within a period of
time shorter than a human life time? Any grounds there?
Thats the specific problem she is addressing.Medha patkar.
Are we not to think beyond just this one life we live.Could that not
be a better standard to work upon? Is that not efficiency? That a
thing lasts out much much longer than one human life time? Is
achievement such a narrow word vis a vis time? Need we to plan so
short? Need we to plan at all? How do we justify all we do? Or is a
justification uncalled for?Are we achieving for the sake of achievement or for some thing more than just that? For, why must I
have anything to do with ones achievement if it has nothing to do with me??!! Whats all this we are upto? We seem to suggest we are proving a
point.Whats this point we are trying to prove and where is the
obligation or the need to?
Success; such a short one life time word.So very anthropocentric.Came
with the judeo christian ethic and the problem with the ethic has been man being at the centre of it all.Ask the bible as to how and where animals other than us are placed in nature and it will tell you its all meant for our consumption.The Universe was designed for human use you know !
Like a game of chess.We need to win or loose.Now who's telling me its
the way to go?
What if I dont wish to play the game? Na.I am not playing this game.
Have'nt and will stick to my guns come what may.
Am I going to claim a right now?
A right is no right when you have
to make claims for it.Never.Such dont just exist.
Survival is my stuff.Against all odds.Will not only run my life
through, but will have the best of it per my subjective standards for,
subjectivity is one thing this world can never deny me.It thrives on
it you see.
We can be different because some one told us we are so. Great.
Its only unfortunate (and it beats me bad), that no one sees, that people are more like each other than not.
We could kill each other like all animals because we are animals and a
specific kind called humans who went wrong all along.Maybe by nature's
design.But if thats so, we were designed to "GO".In which case there
is,again,nothing "achieved".And killing being allowed for, with proper "justification" that only a few are capable of and very conveniently so .
Seems like it will continue to be so
for a while, till economics ceases to be centrestage.Its so colorless
So many brilliant possibilities to the winds.And lets never say
thats the way it is.Its by our doing and not on its own that it is as
it is.
Medha patkar has done something no one else has done in India till now.
Relief for the evacuees who are humans like you and I, no less, and
worth as much.
She is getting them the promised compensation atleast BEFORE the
project is complete, step by trying step, which in recorded Indian history has never happened.
Nagarjuna sagar evacuees in Andhra pradesh are all dead.
Their grandchildren survive; in cities on daily labour where, if they were to get their monies atleast now, by market value, they would be competing with the richest there are; and remember , all of this post independance and so very brazenly; overtly.
And now, they are wanted out of the cities.Slum clearnce you know.Ask
the slum dweller where his grandad came,and you will hear , that unlike
ours, they were from sustainable living conditions only for them
to be thrown straight into anarchy and only because they trusted the
powers that were and are; which beats our sensiblities.
Selective perspectives and visions now.
How long do we want them to hold on?
And we have News papers that claimed to help us with relief if not justice!!
Common now, Lets bloody hell give them their lives too.
For, like the Maoists, any one can kill.Just any one.
Nothing there.So its for the better for the well- to- do to be good to
the down and out.
We came together on agreement that we will be "civilised''.
Tell me we are !? Are we?
And if we are'nt, why should killing as bad ,be, as its portrayed?
The point is to look beyond the clothes the lady wears, the accent she has, and how very much against the"confirmed" cut she can be .She is working against the very pitiful conception of keeping up with the
joneses.Why should I be found wanting in civility to my neighbours and compete with them instead of cooperate and live together? And if I cant, why should'nt I kill, tell me?
I wont.
Word of homor.
It maybe cliched out but I am sorry.
I dont subscribe to the idea of a good idea being cliched out of existence.
No.Its not such a fancy world as we seem to think it is.
Loads of order and our going against the cut is only going to have us
paying for it with our lives; which we are already, only if one looked close enough.

June 12, 2006 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is this PAPI ? What a horrible comment!!

June 16, 2006 8:35 AM  
Blogger swapan said...


You r awesome buddy. Keep it up !!


July 08, 2006 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be interested in the following articles that follow your point of view:
This sanctuary is a prison (", Spiked Online, February 7, 2001.
Kirk Leech 'Dam campaigns' (, Spiked Online, March 8, 2001.

September 17, 2006 5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maggie Black, who has attacked the Dam is speaking in London this week, does anyone know anything about her?

September 17, 2006 5:24 AM  
Blogger Siddhartha Shome said...

Thanks for sharing those articles. In fact the website spiked-online seems to be having quite a few interesting articles.

A cursory google search shows that Maggie Black is someone who takes a strong post-colonial post-modernist view of development, i.e., she is anti-industrialization, anti-globalization, anti-economic-growth, etc. She has written books such as "The No-Nonsense Guide to Development" where she "examines the relationship between development and economic growth, the impact development has had on the living conditions of the poor and on the environment, and whether development will have a specific role in the future or whether it will simply be subsumed under the concept of globalization".

I feel that such post-modernists do highlight many important problems - neglect of the downtrodden, etc., but they are completely wrong in identifying the causes of these problems as modernization, technology, globalization, westernization, corporatization, economic growth, etc. My view is that these problems are much more attributable to traditionalism, lack of technology, lack of globalization, lack of economic growth, etc.

September 17, 2006 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Arjun said...

Hi Sid,
I know this comment reaches you almost 2 years after youw rote the article. I just want to ask you one simple question:
Why should I be asked to leave my home and lands and go somewhere else so that someone else might benefit. I know that anyone with such an attitude could be viewed as being selfish, but seriously why should I give up my home so that 10 other people might benefit? India is a democracy, therefore people with such an attitude have to be accomodated or appeased by appropriate settlements. If they are not happy with the settlement offered, then too bad "things didnt work out". That is why India is India and China will always be China :). I know I said something very contentious, but hey, I like my martinis shaken.

May 19, 2008 5:14 PM  
Blogger The War still continues said...

Hey "Sid" maybe you are too cool to be "Sidhartha" anyhow...

It is your comments and those of some others that really shock me, you write so authoritatively about what is best for the 1000 million appear to be even more loyal than the king...Reading your posts, at first I thought maybe you were a government stooge/agent, being paid to write hallowed glowing lines about the corrupt to the core, conscienceless, arrogant, hardened, greedy, anti-people government and political leaders who rule India today.
So if you are a stooge, well that's definitely a great job, if you are not, I doubt anyone will ever insult you more than what I have done today. No one likes informers and stooges.

Get a grip, more than 70% of Indians don't get enough to eat, and its not because there is no food in the godowns.

1. I don't agree with many things about the NBA, largely because it is another facet of the ruling classes who have propped it up as a definition of "dissent" as being peaceful, gandhian etc etc.

2. But it is only as anti national as the BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena, RSS, CPI(M) are - working to make the rich eventually richer and cushioning the dissenting anger of the poor and dispossessed people and giving it a safe release - just so that you people like you can come back home to your palatial mansions, while papa's factory keeps on ticking, mummy goes to buy the latest gucci bag and the dog gets his premium dog food.... and you can prop up and say just how much concerned you are about India and also how great it is to be in the US of A.

Now read about 1857 and from the Indian side and try and learn some
lessons from it - maybe it will help you in building some character...

July 02, 2008 11:44 AM  
Blogger The War still continues said...

I totally wholeheartedly agree with Arjun. People must be given the democratic right to decide what kind of development they want.
The problem with the rich and the middle classes in India these days is that they have thrown their lot behind the aggressive rich rulers. These hanger ons are now eagerly waiting for the next bone to be thrown to them from their ruling masters. The dangerous trend is that these aspiring middle class people do no want "development" except through the barrel of a gun. They want development backed by authoritarianism, so at the end of the day it is not even a European model that fascinates them- (because it has too much welfare for the poor) but the Singapore model, driven by surveillance cameras and public flogging. look at the model of development - right across from Gurgaon to Bhubaneshwar- SINGAPORE is their supreme target. I mean how much more crazy can you get
that they demand the stick and guns for the poor in the name of "strict implementation of the law" but when it comes to an issue of the law pointing at them, their mobile phones are out, bribes paid and "connections" are promptly called to bail them out from any situation where they are themselves in the wrong.

July 02, 2008 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice write-up ... useful update on medha patkar in this blog ..

March 14, 2009 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are sadly a brain-washed victim of propaganda. Your seemingly "objective analysis, which is very logically presented is absolutely superficial, non comprehensive, selective and lacks a proper understanding of the issue at hand. These views are of some arrogant, proud objective thinkers belonging to privileged urban class that visits villages as exotic weekend getaways and talks of the NBA over a beer in a bar located in a posh locality. You would consider poor adivasis as a hindrance to your own economic development (materialistic lifestyle and thinkser's paradise over exotic coffee would be your pass-times). You and your friends are the people targeted by the governments and government agencies such as SSNNL, NCA,NVDA, GRAs that are blatantly violating and undermining the Supreme Court's Judgements and generating propoganda and rumours to brainwash people like you by linking it to your selfish greed. Please re think, unlearn and explore once more and try and see things from a sub-altern perspective.Thanks.

August 06, 2009 1:11 AM  
Blogger The War still continues said...

The problem with NGO led struggles is
1. they claim the intellectual superiority of the "left" by claiming to be "Gandhian Marxists" or "Gandhian Socialists"
2. They claim the moral superiority of non-violence, being invariably Gandhian. (Though they never see violence anywhere except when blood flows)
3. they claim all the economic priviledges of the "right"- to be paid handsome salaries to be a political activist is a dream come alive...
4. They have immense access to the corridors of power..
5. All this eventually adds up to the fact that the critique of NGOs and their leaders is always "reformist" never for a total change... which is impossible without violence...and that would send them to jail and be branded as lets critique the system but keep it a little low.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that without these NGOs there would be many more revolutions happening all over India and the rest of the world. These NGOs get funds to tap into the anger of the people against the system, dampen that anger and ensure that all dissent stays within the parameters and purview of the ruling classes...people like Medha Patkar are handpicked by the establishment and it is the establishment which decides how long a leash has to be given to her. Till the day Medha does not talk about overthrowing the system, she and her folowers will always feel a great sense of moral courage and superiority-all of which will vanish in the wink of an eyelid, if she transgresses her Gandhian safe spot.

August 06, 2009 2:10 AM  
Anonymous shubhs said...

I REALLY like your blog. It was informative and (hopefully) precise. I will be checking out the validity of these statements. I do think you are right about quite a few points like people taking an idealistic view on large projects and saying no to them. I think that proper actions should be taken to make sure that pollution is controlled. Anyway when you said that 2 hectares of land is going to be available to each family, have you thought about how big these families might be? Some families might be HUGE! What will they do then? It is a popular practice in rural areas for a couple to have 6-7 children. With that many mouths to feed, is it possible for there to be an adequate income and all the children to be fed as well? Do remember that there's a practice of having an older man marry a woman who is younger than him by maybe, 10 years or maybe even more. Men are the people who generally work the fields and the wife stays at home and looks after the children. If there are any sons, they work on the crops with their father. With the R&R act, the govt. is giving 2 hectares of land to sons who are over 18 years old. These sons might have their own families to look after then what happens to their old parents and the siblings they left behind? It might just so happen that there are no sons and there are only daughters...Think about these situations. Remember about the farmer suicides as well and their rates as well. The causes are common knowledge: Loans from the banks or the money lenders that they couldn't pay back for the crops had failed again. Link up the dots and you'll understand. Btw the younger generation is not that hasty in its beliefs...I am in class seven and am 13 years old and I think that the whole media system is corrupt. They try to play games and clearly support the political party which feeds them cash or whatever party the public hero-worships. Journalism is about giving the truth to the public though that has been destroyed. They try to show that the NGOs are organisations that are to be pitied instead of finding out if every thing's as innocent as they show it to be. Instead of finding out both the sides of the arguments, they portray the NGOs as the 'heroes' who are saving the poor 'victimised' people from the govt who is only out 'for their own gain'. Projects like the one in Singur, West Bengal could have been handled in a better manner. Environmental concerns HAVE to be met and dealt with! For development to happen, there has to be a world. Think about it like that. The govt should be working on a better India, a better world. They should concentrate on a better India centuries from now. For that to happen, we have to have the basic amenities like food, water and living space in plenty at that time. If we don't treat the environment better, there isn't going to be 5 centuries more for this world, let alone a single millennium.



January 09, 2010 6:18 AM  
Blogger aadi said...

Narmada Bachao Andolan is the most powerful mass movement, started in 1985, against the
construction of huge dam on the Narmada a river. Narmada is the India's largest west flowing river, which
supports a large variety of people with distinguished culture and tradition ranging from the indigenous
(tribal) people inhabited in the jungles here to the large number of rural population. The proposed Sardar
Sarovar Dam and Narmada Sagar will displace more than 250,000 people. The big fight is over the
resettlement or the rehabilitation of these people. The two proposals are already under construction,
supported by US$550 million loan by the world bank. There are plans to build over 3000 big and small
dams along the river.

December 13, 2010 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read supreme court judgement 2010

"The project has the potential to feed as many as 20 million people, provide domestic and industrial water for about 30 million, employ about 1 million, and provide valuable peak electric power in an area with high unmet power demand (farm pumps often get only a few hours power per day). In addition, recent research shows substantial economic multiplier effects (investment and employment triggered by development) from irrigation development. Set against the futures of about 70,000 project affected people, even without the multiplier effect, the ratio of beneficiaries to affected persons is well over 100:1"

April 22, 2011 2:33 PM  
Blogger sunshine said...

I am working on exactly this paper - a critique of NBA and your blog is a GOLDMINE!

Thank you so much for this!!

Shivangi Narayan

November 03, 2011 7:10 AM  

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