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Indira Sagar Project (II) – the social aspect

Just 2-3 days after I had visited the Indira Sagar site that news started pouring in about it. Monsoon was at its onset and the dam waters were rising to their expected levels for the first time. The district of Harsud was the major target. Authorities had passed orders to vacate the area and even the electricity and telephone lines had been snapped off. But the commoners of the area were reluctant to leave their homeland; reasons like non-payment of relief amount, inadequate arrangements at new location and corruption were sighted. But finally the media’s loud protest and intervention pulled the CM to the site and relief operations were speeded up. Whether the CM’s visit did sort out all the issues is questionable but it at least got the work moving up fast. Media the fourth pillar of democracy finally did help the commoners get their say to the world.
Above all discussion brings one fact to the fore; all the mega projects aimed at mass development and national growth finally are not very happy experiences for the commoners who are affected by them at the ground level. This is as true of Dam projects or industries as it is of political moves. The rich and elite who decide to implement such policies and projects are hardly ever affected (negatively) by them. After this dam is built it will feed electricity to millions of urban homes in Bhopal and Indore –far away from Harsud etc. What do people of the affected area get from it. This electricity will lead to growth of industry in which these displaced people will be manual labour. Their conditions here will be even worse than what were in their small village.
But the rich and elite who will set-up these industries will increase their assets and become richer. Even if one small city had come under the influence of the dam the rich and elite in this area would have safely shifted to other cities; but the poor? They would be left to their fate on small governmental relief which cannot even buy them a decent home in a new village.
I am not a communist or a saint (not yet atleast), but I wonder whether this development is development at-all. What does a nation’s progress mean?
India-Pakistan two-nation-theory was a concept of conjured up by the elite like Jinnah. But what effect did it have on them? After the partition these people safely shifted to cities of their choice. It was the poor who did not have enough money to shift who were massacred and bore the brunt of partition. Do the elite have the right to come up with policies, projects and demands which they do not bore the brunt of?
Is it this future which the communists (Marxist and Leninist alike) fought for? Is it this for which Gandhi strived his whole life? Is it this for which Bhagat Singh gave his life? I wonder. I m seeking answers to all these questions because I myself am going to be part of the elitist (who might come up with more such projects). Would like comments ……


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