Friday, November 01, 2013

A Statue to shame us all

Dams are built at a terrible cost. Thousands of poor people lose land, livelihood and their way of life, for a compensation. Eminent Domain by which we authorize the state to take over private land, to serve the greater common good of the country, must be used with great caution and respect.

The dams built across Narmada have been especially painful. Thousands of people in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra lost their villages to irrigate Gujarat. Hundreds of activists are protesting the callous way in which compensation was distributed and still hasn't reached some. I have been vary of Narmada Bachao Andolan but have never been unsympathetic to people's demands for just compensation.

Now, some people are building a statue of Sardar Patel on the bank of Sardar Sarovar Dam. I mean, a dam already named after Sardar Patel. Why the State is involved in such a statue building exercise is beyond me. How do we tolerate 2500 crore rupees being spent to build a freaking statue when thousands are still protesting to get compensation for terrible personal sacrifices? And why do we remain mute spectators to one man's misuse of the statue to further his political ambition?

Its quite depressing.


ps: I took the above photo while visiting Bhakra dam which is celebrating 50 years this October. I'm sure our statue builders will also begrudge this portrait of our then Prime Minster who was instrumental in building that dam.

My visit to Bhakra was quite a learning experience. A photo essay here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/balajiworld/sets/72157633199216696/