Saturday, January 23, 2010

When they built the dam.....

This is the story about this young man, name I do not know. He was not the kinds that would form the characters of the books or the kinds that were portrayed in the movies. He was a simple man, and he lived in a small village near the Narmada valley, almost at the border of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Life consisted mainly of going to forest and tending to small farm, the needs were not many, everything was got locally, and apparently till some years back the only thing that used to come from the city was salt.

He owned a small piece of land, which he spent most of his time tending to. His life appeared to be set, he was just stepping in to manhood and he already had found a girl for himself. Girl happened from the adjacent village which was about 15km away, walk was the only way to go. He had fallen in love with her, at the small stream which flowed near their village, and merged in to Narmada. Love marriages were not very unknown in the community and infact they were encouraged. So he was looking forward to the beautiful life to come, not aware of the huge calamity that was to fall on his head.

So as it happened, he realized that his village was one of the three villages identified in Gujarat which was to be submerged into the Narmada dam which was going to be built. He did not know much about the Dam and he did not understand much, other than the fact that it would produce Bijli, something that always filled him with wonder and amazement, something which he had seen in cities when he had traveled and something which he yearned for. He was supposed to get some money, there was confusion, so much of money looked attractive, but he could not fully figure out why was he asked to be moved from a place where he had stayed for ages. In the confusion he had also realized that the girls father had rejected his proposal for marriage. Girls father could not marry his daughter to someone whose future was uncertain. He was too confused to fight back, too uncertain to make any claims. Things were changing rapidly, and he was not able to keep pace with the change.

One year down the line, nothing remained same for him. He found himself in completely different world. He lost his land for some money. Money some of which was left, some he had spent lavishly and some he had lost. He had got land somewhere but it did not seem the same. The girl was already married somewhere, and he had stopped thinking about it because it bought pain and memories of lost world. He was doing odd jobs, he felt that he had lost his identity. But someone had told him, what the newspapers said, Dam was going to be considered as one of India's greatest pride but papers did not mention anything about him or his village



PS: Most of the story is true, heard about it in Mozda, a small tribal village in Gujarat. I also went and saw Sardar Sarovar, which is massive, and which has bought water to places where water was a struggle. But someone has had to pay the price for it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Marvin said...

would recommend the book Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy. it's a collection of political essays by her by beautifully written. and remarkably non-academic so as to be understood by all.

Goli said...

@Marvin, Yes I will try that book. I think I will like it. Thanks.

愛寶 said...
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Anonymous said...

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indicaspecies said...

Sad story of the young man. I hope the environmental impact is minimal.

However, may I point out that sometimes rural development is necessary for significant public benefit?

anant said...

Hmm... sad story...hope the guy managed to restart his life...

I used to think that Government should overcompensate people, when it takes their land. But maybe that is not enough... It should also create awareness, among the affected, of the change that is to come, and help them tackle the change...

Dr. Chandana Shekar said...

yup.. everythin comes with a price tag. and somebody has to pay the price

debamitro said...

Maybe this recent article about a recent government report about the environmental damage done by the dams on Narmada will be relevant: http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article329447.ece (the report is at http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/SECOND%20INTERIM%20REPORT%20OF%20THE%20COMMITTEE%20FOR%20ASSESSMENT%20OF%20SURVEY.doc )

It is a sad aspect of post-industrial development that it is _always_ someone else who pays the price for what you get.