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Sardar Sarovar Dam

Why Did I laugh
And what a story it is.
50 million people
Trust me. Story is here.
Certainly India has progressed:
But most of its people haven't.
There is hole in the flag that needs mending
Why are they so keen?

Related Links

A Rejoinder - By B.G. Verghese to Roy's Article.
Debate - Roy's response to B.G. Verghese's rejoinder.
Recent Images - Domkhedi Satyagraha pictures
Sustainable Development - Concern for Environment

The Greater Common Good: India has 3,600 big dams-they have devoured 50 million people already. Silently. Now it's the turn of the Narmada.

by Arundhati Roy

I'm no city basher, no anti-development junkie. Merely curious. That's why I went to the Narmada valley. Instinct told me this was the big one.

"If you are to suffer, you should suffer in the interest of the country." -Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking to villagers who were to be displaced by the Hirakud dam, 1948.  

I stood on a hill and laughed out loud.

I had crossed the Narmada by boat from Jalsindhi and climbed the headland on the opposite bank from where I could see, ranged across the crowns of low, bald hills, the tribal hamlets of Sikka, Surung, Neemgavan and Domkhedi. I could see their airy, fragile, homes. I could see their fields and the forests behind them. I could see little children with littler goats scuttling across the landscape like motorised peanuts. I knew I was looking at a civilisation older than Hinduism, slated-sanctioned (by the highest court in the land)-to be drowned this monsoon when the waters of the Sardar Sarovar reservoir will rise to submerge it.

Why did I laugh [Next]

Copyright 1999 Dr. Raj Mehta. All rights reserved.