April 19, 2006

What's wrong with perceptions

Siddhartha Shome of Sid's Blog has a well-footnoted piece he calls What's Wrong With the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Various arguments, some of which are worth reacting to.

So let's see.

  • 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.

    Under this "perception", Sid lists various facts about R&R, including this one taken from the 2000 Supreme Court judgement (in the Narmada Bachao Andolan vs Union of India case):
      The total number of project affected families (PAFs) – with major sons being counted as separate families – is 40,827.
    (Below this, Sid also lists the judgement's explanation of just how much submergence there will be in Madhya Pradesh).

    Very good. Only, the 40,827 seems to be a 1993 number, going by where it makes its sole appearance in the judgement:
      The total project affected families who would be affected were 40,827. ... The picture of this submergence as per the Government of Madhya Pradesh Action Plan of 1993 is as follows: [MP submergence details quoted by Sid].
    It is now 13 years later. The number has likely increased.

    Why make a point of this? Because the judgement itself makes a point of such increase. For example, it says:
      In 1988 when the project was first cleared ... it was estimated that 12,180 families would be affected in three States. ... the number of PAFs as estimated in 1992 by the State Governments were 30,144.
    What would that number be today?

    But apart from that, note that I said the 40,827 makes a "sole appearance" in the judgement. However a rather similar number -- 40,227 -- appears elsewhere in the judgement, like so:
      The number of PAFs as estimated in 1992 by the State Governments were 30,144. ... As per the 1990 Master Plan [for R&R] the total PAFs have increased to 40,227 from 30,144 due to addition of 100 more genuine PAFs in Maharashtra. ... The reason for increase in number of PAFs has been explained in the Master Plan and the reasons given, inter alia, are:

      (a) After CWC prepared backwater level data, the number of PAFs in Madhya Pradesh (MP) increased by 12,000 PAFs.
    Now you tell me what all this means.

    In 1992, there were 30,144 estimated PAFs. But in 1990 -- two years earlier -- that number had "increased to 40,227 from 30,144"? And that time-warped increase is "due to" 100 more PAFs in Maharashtra? But 30,144 + 100 = 30,244. Not 40,227. Or was that increase because of 12,000 new MP PAFs? But 30,144 + 12,000 = 42,144. Not 40,227. And nowhere in here do you find 40,827.

    So what is the right number of PAFs, today?

    Besides, this article in the Hindustan Times (April 18 2006) has these lines:
      "If we could not rehabilitate them in six years, how can you expect the feat to be accomplished in just three months as the Centre has promised to the SC?" said a senior official of the Narmada Valley Development Corporation. ...

      NVDC vice-chairman Uday Verma said that the number of families to be rehabilitated is about 16,000 and not 35,000 as claimed by the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
    So, again, what is the right number of PAFs? And more important, how are they going to be given R&R if officials themselves are doubtful of doing it? And still more important, what does that mean for the Supreme Court order that dam construction must happen pari passu with R&R? (See my previous post on this issue, and note there too what Central Ministers had to say about R&R in MP).

    Sid also lists the "generous" R&R package the government has put together. It is generous; you will see some specifics from the package in this piece I wrote some days ago. But as you will also see in that piece, the point is not the generous package on paper, but how it is translated on the ground. That's the point the protesters are making. And that translation ... well, here's what those Central Ministers wrote:
      The reports [about R&R are] largely paperwork and it has no relevance with the situation on the ground.

    Later in his piece, Sid tackles this very issue, about how the R&R policy is good on paper but is poorly implemented. He has this revealing sentence right there: R&R has generally been carried out successfully in Gujarat.

    Perhaps so, but that means little. Why? Because by far the greatest displacement will happen not in Gujarat, but in MP.

    For example, Sid himself says, early on: 241 villages will be partially affected (16 in Gujarat, 33 in Maharashtra and 192 in MP). [From the SC judgement.]

    For example, an official 1998 Sardar Sarovar Project publication I have says that of 40,727 PAFs, 33,014 -- over 80 per cent -- are from MP. (FACTS: Sardar Sarovar Project, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited, 1998).

    So pointing to successful R&R in Gujarat is nice, but somewhat irrelevant. That was never an issue in the most recent Delhi protest.

    (Sid also tackles perceptions that the NBA's efforts brought about the generous R&R policy, and that the NBA represents the poor. I believe these perceptions, true or false, are irrelevant to the success or failure of the project, which is the crucial issue. So I won't react to those).

    Finally, Sid says his is a "pro-development" view. That may be the most subtle question of all. Is what is happening with the Sardar Sarovar project -- the mess with R&R, among other things -- truly development?

    ***

    Plug: Some of what's here is in my book, The Narmada Dammed. There's plenty more there as well.
  • 39 comments:

    Illogical Truisms said...

    Just you wait, I am looking up the Wikipedia to expose your logically fallacious argument. Just you wait!

    Kim said...

    Sorry dilip, quoting a string of numbers does not help.Whatever numbers are there, need to be rehabilitated. There is no question on this.Everyone is concerned about the same.

    The main issue is the skewed protests and the overall highly questionable role of NBA in all this which has been responsible for dealys and has obstructed to some degree R&R efforts.

    Logical Fallacies said...

    but where is the land? The fucking MP govt says it has no land to rehab!

    tejal said...

    kim - 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. 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 questioning them is. the NBA is doing very important work which needs to be done at all levels. one cant 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 and policy failures.

    dilip - i think u touched on a very improtant point at the end of the post - the basic concept of "development" who defines it, who decides what is progress and what is not, wether it can be forced on people or not, whose progress is more important, who should sacrifice and for whom -are a few things that need to be asked and answered by people on both sides of the arguement.

    Purushottam said...

    kim---The main issue is the skewed protests and the overall highly questionable role of NBA in all this which has been responsible for dealys and has obstructed to some degree R&R efforts.
    Would you have any references or numbers to back that up? All I have read about, only points to failure and disregard for R&R.

    also, i think by pointing fingers at each other (urban vs rural, slum dwellers vs. house owners, workers vs. coporates etc.) in some sense we are falling prey to the agenda of the politicians. The want to people to fight against each other over the trivial ofetne sensationalized issues and not focus the more important and relevant issues---which in this case is the Stat's reposnsibility to do R&R bedire height increase. They don't want focus on issues of project evaluation, inflated costs, delayed deadlines, corruption, alternative mechanims---and in some we are falling into that trap, if we just point figures at each other and don't question the basic cause of all these matters.

    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.

    Eswaran B said...


    dilip - i think u touched on a very improtant point at the end of the post - the basic concept of "development" who defines it, who decides what is progress and what is not, wether it can be forced on people or not, whose progress is more important, who should sacrifice and for whom -are a few things that need to be asked and answered by people on both sides of the arguement.


    Why tejal, isn't it for the Indian government to decide? We are in a democracy after all!

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Kim, quoting a string of numbers doesn't help? Why, was the Supreme court aware of that? They quote a string of numbers in their judgement -- from which Sid's and (some of) mine are taken.

    Sid, it's the MP Government that has decided that it has no land to rehabilitate oustees according to the announced packages (i.e. including land for land). It's the MP Government that is pushing for a return to cash compensation. In other words, it is the MP Government that is making the case that R&R is impossible.

    I say this not to point fingers, truly. I also don't know any way to change perceptions such as "the NBA has obstructed R&R efforts", and I think it is futile to try. So I'm just saying, it is dam authorities who are throwing up their hands about R&R.

    Development must mean for us all. With all the setbacks, I think this is the true triumph of the NBA: that they have raised questions about development that cannot be wished away.

    Neela said...

    Dilip: Why is cash for land a bad thing? is it that the cash compensation is inadequately calculated or it is a principle against cash compensation? When old houses get demolished to make way for malls in the cities, the occupants of said houses are given cash compensation and asked to look for a new house elsewhere. Why not the same thing for the affected villagers?

    If its a principle, well, then its going to be very hard to get rural India to obtain any benefits of the market based economy because money is seen to have no exchange value in the rural India i.e. land for land only. And land is after all a fixed-supply commodity.
    n!

    Purushottam said...

    dilip---completely agree, NBA has played a very important role in questioning the process of "development" and we need more not less of such people's movements for greater State accountability.

    eswaran---
    Isn't it for the Indian government to decide
    Yes, it is, as they are *our* representatives. But when they decide to start building bottling plants/dams/river-links without event discussing with the people (*us*) that will be affected by their policies or don't reveal plans because they will be too difficult for the common man to understand, there has to a be questioning of the process and the kind of development that is being pursued. No?

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Neela, re: land for land and cash for land, perhaps I'll just quote the original Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award of 1979, which set out the parameters of this project. It lists what it calls the "main objectives of R&R", first of which is to "improve the standard of living or at least regain the standard of living they had been enjoying prior to their displacement." And this:

    The displacement of the people due to major river valley projects has occurred in both developed and developing countries. In the past, there was no definite policy for rehabilitation of displaced persons associated with the river valley projects in India .. [C]ash compensation [under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894] was the practice, which resulted in the resettlement of displaced families becoming unsustainable due to squandering away of the compensation money. This type of rehabilitation programmes deprived the poor and illiterate tribals from their land, houses, wages, natural environment and their socio-economic and cultural milieu.

    Note the frank acknowledgement of how R&R was ignored before its time, and then the danger of cash compensation. Even loan agreements signed with the World Bank for Sardar Sarovar explicitly forbid cash compensation: In no case shall cash payments be made in substitution for actual rehabilitation.

    (Again, this is taken from my book "The Narmada Dammed").

    Neela said...

    Ok.

    So the main issue with cash compensation seems to be that illiterate tribals/villagers will not be able to figure out the exchange value of money when they get it (as they have not been exposed to this currency before, being presumably in a self-suficient barter economy).

    Why isn't it easier to educate villagers about money and/or devise some implementation plan whereby they don't squander the money when they initially get it, than be so stuck on the land-for-land compensation issue? Seems to me that money for land is a cleaner compensation route anyway than land for land.

    One more question: after the WB withdrew from the project, do the loan agreements still hold (land-for-land?)

    n!

    Purushottam said...

    Of what use would money be to a farmer who has cultivated land for all his life? (assuming ofcourse he cannot buy land from it, else the govt. would have given it to him in ideal conditions) Further, he may not wish to enter a world where money is the only unit for value. He is not only being told to vacate his land for the good of city-folk, but also is told to enter a money-cycle regarding which he has no knowledge and possibly no inclination for. Also, these decisions are made by the beneficiaries of the water/steel/electricity... projects from the city offices without even consulting the affected parties.

    Shouldn't the affected persons have a voice atleast in what kind of compensation they should get? I think they should have a role in the project planning phase too and have the right to decide/negotiate terms and plans of the projects that affect them.

    Tanuj said...

    puru, it is arguments like yours that make this settlement so difficult. i don't see what is wrong with giving cash for land - it is clean, easy and efficient, as long as it is a true representation of the value required to rehabilitate the displaced. the NBA has done a great job bringing the rehab issue into focus, but i think by insisting on land for land they are not doing the displaced any favours. if the NBA finds the idea of cash for land unacceptable, then instead of going on fast-unto-deaths they might consider utilizing their time and effort in finding appropriate pieces of land for the farmers to buy with the money they may eventually get. it seems to me that this is as close to a win-win we can ever get.

    of course we want rehabilitation but we keep insisting on conditions that are arguably not the most pragmatic. if the NBA believes that the choice is between all conditions or no increase in dam height, then it is an unrealistic choice. the NBA (in my opinion) should focus on getting fair compensation amount rather than imposing conditions on kind of compensation. if however we insist on being romantic (and therefore obstinate) about this, well, a few more years of hunger strikes and dry taps is good for everyone's health.

    tanuj

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Tanuj, it's hardly the NBA that "insists" on land for land, it is the people who conceived the dam in the first place (NWDT) who put it down as policy, as I quoted in my previous comment! I'm baffled by how this is turned on its head to beat the NBA with.

    The NBA is saying, follow the policy you have yourselves committed to. Here's an analogy: the Constitution makes primary education a fundamental right, meaning that it should be available to all Indians. If i doesn't keep this commitment, and organization XYZ says, please keep this commitment you have made, should we turn around and say "You're insisting on conditions that are not the most pragmatic"?

    Two things here: one, whatever the reason is, simple cash handouts have proved to be disastrous in the past, in the sense that they have ruined lives. Doesn't gell well with a policy that says we should aim to give an oustee the same or a better standard of living than the one he gave up for the dam (which seems like a reasonable goal to me). In some cases I know about, people have tried cash handouts with extensive vocational training, and that has worked better. But I don't see any sign of something like that here.

    two, the larger question is indeed development. It is not clear to me, and to many people who have studied the Sardar Sarovar Project, that the good it might do will "outweigh" the problems with R&R. To me, too many people start with the assumption that SSP will usher in some great benefits of "development", and that if we can only take care of the displaced people properly, and if the NBA would just focus on that, we'd all be fine. Well, the NBA is raising questions about that very assumption. I think they are valid questions that need answers, at the very least.

    Suhas said...

    IndiaTV showed today in Breaking News (20th April), some details and visuals of how NBA has been
    trying to sabotage R&R work. What they did was far worse than what they are complaining about their office where Medha was seen play acting by shedding tears (tear, tear) over a broken PC donated by someone.

    People areally seem to be carried away by her innocent hurt. In a sense she is a better politician than the professional politicians.

    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?

    Suhas said...

    Subsequent to the earlier comment, a point on another aspect of the endles and useless debate trying to prove how everything about the project is bad:
    I agree with Tanuj and Neela on the cash thing. If a person is happy with cash, who are we to surmise that it will be blown away and prevent him from taking it and insist that he take land?? This is plain ridiculous no matter how intellectual people try to sound when making such arguments!!!!!!

    Siddhartha Shome said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Siddhartha Shome said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Siddhartha Shome said...

    I think that the principle of "land-for-land" for those who want land has been well established, right from the NWDT award in 1979, and has been further reinforced and enlarged since then to include "at-least-two-hectares" for those owning less and "land-for-affected-landless". Of course it is up to individual PAFs to choose between land and cash compensation. Some do choose chash, so as to set up a shop, small business, etc. But those who choose land must get land. The Supreme court itself has insisted on this. It doesn't matter whether the World Bank is involved or not. All state govts and the central govt. MUST accept this. I think any claim that "land is not available" is a lame excuse. How can land not be available in a vast state like MP ? MPs population growth itself is probably larger than the number of oustees. If MP can accomodate a growing population, why can't it accomodate oustees ? Also note that about half or more of all MP PAFs will have to move only a few hundred meters or less, not to far-away locations. Remember also that the Gujarat govt. is committed to giving land to any MP PAF who is willing to move to Gujarat. Maybe some forest dept. land in MP will have to be released for PAFs. If the MP govt. says "land is not available" they are simply being lazy, especially since they have available hundreds of crores of Rs to buy land. The public must insist on full R&R as per govt. policies and the Supreme Court judgements. The NBA can also help a lot by identifying suitable land, negotiating the price, etc., but are they really interested in successful R&R ? On the issue of "what kind of development do we want", SSP has been studied for 40+ yrs by various tribunals, committees, World Bank, etc. The decision to build SSP was taken in a democratic manner. Surely this decision should be respected even if you don't agree with it entirely. Also see this excellent article by Gail Omvedt.

    Dilip, on a totally unrelated note, it is great that you met my friend Abodh Aras. That is 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 Welfare of Stray Dogs (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.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Sid:

    The NBA can also help a lot by identifying suitable land, negotiating the price, etc., but are they really interested in successful R&R?

    What was the most recent demonstration in Delhi about? Asking the dam builders to stick to their commitment of doing R&R at least side-by-side with dam construction. Sounds to me like that's asking for "successful R&R".

    I can't claim to speak for the NBA, but here's the way I see this project: I don't believe it will ever deliver the benefits authorities claim it will deliver to those who need them most. This is completely independent of the NBA. This is essentially what I argue in my book -- that the best case against the dam is made by those who are building it.

    SSP has been studied for 40+ yrs by various tribunals, committees, World Bank, etc.

    And that's just the point. It's any number of studies and reports that convince me this project will not deliver on the promises made for it. For example, the 1992 Morse Report (World Bank initiated) remains the most comprehensive report on the overall project, and it is simply damning.

    ***

    As for Abodh, it's not quite that I'm part of the WSD work, except in spirit of course! He just said he'd join us on these walks a couple of us have been doing through interesting parts of the city. He's an old pal and has made the walks that much more interesting with all his knowledge of the area.

    Neela said...

    Thank you Siddharth and Dilip for some good answers.

    My question was not to point out the ridiculousness of the land-for-land compensation. Suhas, just to clarify, I don't think Medha Patkar is in any way a dishonest crocodile tear-shedding politician. I think she is an honest and admirable leader and she is doing a great job of bringing a grave injustice into the public eye.

    I asked the question of compensation in the spirit of wanting to understand (a) why land is so important to the compensation process (b) whether there is any way in which a reasonable negotiation can be reached. In this I agree with Tanuj, we can all keep protesting or we can negotiate (surely a less romantic option) a reasonable settlement. What should we focus on re: the compensation issue? is what we (and the NBA) doing really in the best interests of the affected parties?

    Dilip, I agree: the NBA has done a lot to get the issue of 'what is development" upfront and to question the premise of big dams. I am not sure I completely agree with them but that is a different discussion and should not be confused with the struggle to get the affected parties adequate compensation (which I am 100% for). In this light, I found Siddharth's post extremely enlightening and interesting.

    n!

    Siddhartha Shome said...

    Dilip, yes the Morse Report did comment adversely on the project, but not all agree with it. The World Bank (which commissioned the Morse Report) itself never concluded from the report that the project is unviable. Even after Morse the World Bank says “Based on the facts and assumptions presented in the Bank's project completion reports, the projects would realize an economic return of more than 10 percent when completed. This calculation takes account of the probable costs of R&R and environmental mitigation measures, and allows for a five-year delay in completion of the Narmada Sagar dam upstream. The data and assumptions used are consistent with Indian experience in other projects, and in OED's view they do not overlook any major costs or benefits.” For a more detailed report of what the Word Bank thinks of the project see this link. Also Blinkhorn and Smith, World Bank staffers long involved in the Narmada project feel (even after the Morse Report) that the project is viable, and they write “In all the controversy about Narmada, the basic problem that the project seeks to address, and the projects ultimate objective – reliable water for one of the most severely drought-prone areas of India and a better life for millions of poor people – have regrettably been overlooked. The forgotten elements in the swirl of international attention is the millions of India’s poor and their fate; they are as much ‘project affected’ as the Narmada oustees.” The Supreme Court of India also looked at the Morse Report (and also a large number of other reports), but did not find anything to fundamentally question the viability of the project (link).

    Dilip, I’ve ordered your Narmada book. Also plan to order your book on Denotified Tribes (DNTs). I think it is wonderful that you have written about DNTs. I first learnt about DNTs when I visited a school for them in Wagholi near Pune in December last year. Do you have any blog posts on DNTs ?

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Neela, is it really romantic to protest? To do it via a fast? Personally, I truly believe what we should be focusing on is the meaning of development. I think that question has to be asked.

    Sid, naturally everyone didn't agree with the Morse Report! Which is why for me, what said the most about the project was not so much Morse as the reactions to Morse. The sneaky way project authorities sought to debunk it. From all I've read, they couldn't find one criticism with any substance. It was all sneaky, down to calling Morse anti-Hindu. (Yes, I deal with this in my book).

    Blinkhorn and Smith are right on the button: the chance of reliable water for those who most need it has been overlooked. They are forgotten. That's just what I mean when I say that I believe this dam will not deliver on its claimed benefits.

    The Supreme Court did NOT "look at" the Morse Report and then decide it had nothing that could "fundamentally question the viability of the project". I wish the Court had indeed done that. Instead, here's what the judgement said:
    The Government of India vide its letter dated 7th August, 1992 from the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests did not accept the [Morse report and commented adversely on it. In view of the above, we do not propose, while considering the petitioners contentions, to place any reliance on the report of Morse Committee.

    (This is also in my book).

    Thanks for ordering my book, I hope you find it interesting. I have several articles/posts about DNTs. Here's one. If you would like some more, send me a note at ddd AT rediff DOT co DOT in.

    Siddhartha Shome said...

    Dilip, I don’t think the Supreme Court (SC) judgment (link) dismissed the Morse Report simply because the GoI rejected it. In the 107 page judgment, the Morse Report is first mentioned on pages 29-30, when it says that that the Morse Commission was set up by the World Bank (WB). The main conclusions of the Morse Report are then listed. The next 20 pages or so discuss environmental issues and studies, reports and plans by various agencies. Morse is mentioned again by name on page 46-47. The SC notes that the WB itself dismissed the report, and discusses the WB’s reactions/reasoning. Further the SC says “We also agree [with Morse] that work should have been done earlier on the issue of people affected by the canal in Gujarat. However, we do not share the view that resettlement would be virtually impossible”. It then discusses other WB agreements/disagreements with the Morse Report. Then come the sentences you quote “The Government of India … did not accept the report…. In view of the above, we do not propose …to place any reliance on the report of Morse Committee.” As I see it, the SC’s sentence “in view of the above”, does not simply mean “in view of the GoI’s rejection”, but also other factors listed above, such as its own reasoning, as well as the WB’s rejection of the report and the WB’s reasoning, and maybe some of the other environment related reports as well.

    I guess our ideas of development are somewhat different. My view is that we need to adopt all kinds of modern technologies and economic principles, and that will help the weaker sections of society. This is based on the idea that the greatest injustice and oppression happens in traditional society and the unorganized sector, and movement away from traditional/low-tech/unorganized to modern/higher-tech/organized is a good thing. From what I understand, your view is that we need to first need to figure out a more equitable way of distributing the fruits of development before adopting all kinds new technology and economic ideas. Though I don’t agree fully with your point of view, I do appreciate your view. And I really, really do appreciate all your work.

    Tanuj said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Dilip D'Souza said...

    I come here to respond to Tanuj and find he has pre-empted me! Why oh why?

    Sid, perhaps it's the way you look at it. I'll grant that you can see that "In view of the above" as applying to all the factors listed above, and not just to the Govt's rejection of Morse.

    But I don't believe the judges really looked at Morse's reasoning, and I don't believe it was right to reject it as evidence on these grounds.

    As for development, here's what I think. I have no objection to technology and new ideas: I believe we need them. But I don't think it should be assumed that they are good for all just because they are good for some. And I think that's what I see with the dams on the Narmada: there's the assumption that here we are, we're building this good thing, and if we only got the R&R right, and if the NBA would only focus on helping get R&R right, we'd be moving to a better place.

    I think that's a mistaken assumption, because it's not clear to me that the Narmada dams are an unvarnished good thing. I'm not saying all large dams are bad -- I think you have to look at them in each case, and there are cases where a large dam is the best answer. I am saying, I think this dam is a mistake. For this reason: I don't believe it will deliver what it promises to the people who need it most.

    C.N.Gupta said...

    well dd, you have a right to the opinion that narmada is not an unvarnished good thing. Everything has its pros and cons and for every project, two sides of the arguments will both be proven right in some respects.

    The issue is that the decision has been taken after taking everything into consideration and on a balance that it is in the interest of the country to have this project. The second thing that has been decided is that it should be continued and completed.

    These decisions have been taken by the concerned arm of democracy, the government and endorsed by the second arm, the top court and reconfirmed.

    The following choices are then left:

    1. to keep on obstructing this (or any other) project at every stage (a la NBA)creating delays and stoppages that can cost the country dear by delaying the benefits (whatever they are) as well as escalating the costs to astronomical levels and then claim that the costs are unjustified in relation to benefits

    2. To maintain one's opinion that the project is disastrous and hope that one is proven right and the worst things possible happen.

    3. To accept in all humility that the government has taken the decision after considering and carefully evaluating all opinions expert or otherwise and give whole hearted support.

    4. To change the government and the top court and occupy those positions so that one's opinion can prevail.

    Mansukhani said...

    Agree with Gupta and Sid too.

    The supporters of NBA and like-minded individuals and groups simply will never acknolwedge that the decision was taken by governments elected by the people after extensive discussions over several decades.

    It was indeed a grave error on the part of the Government not to have consulted all of them individually and collectively at every stage to ensure the "involvement of the people".

    If they were consulted, such development projects would not have been approved and country would have been much happier for it and the people would have been enjoying by now milk and fruit and honey flowing in abundance in this great land of ours.

    It seems that they would like to stick to choices no. 1, 2 or 4 (vide Gupta)and government will now have to put up with them because of the grave error committed by it earlier.

    Perhaps, it is not too late (better late than never) to cancel all dams, highways, and other infrasturcture projects because of the great harm they do. Let the progress of the country and happiness of people not be delayed by persisting with such projects.

    tanvi said...

    I don't understand why people have to go on NBA is anti-dam so necessarily anti-development and stick to their self made definition on development.
    A very well researched post I came on this after reading a lot of blogs which blame the NBA squarely for the present state of affairs and some them are very well researched so it becomes difficult to disagree because you are told you don't have the right background.
    Your post helps clear a lot of stuff
    People keep on repeating the NBA is trying to stop the dam construction and obstructing development without realising that raising the dam height without first rehabilitating the affected families was in violation of the earlier SC judgement. The same SC they commend for clearing the dam.
    The ministters report and the recent judgement proves the need for adequate R&R.
    No matter what arguments you give some comments will always romanticise the dam as the temple of development and NBA as national threat and if you emphasise on need for effective R&R even without being totally supportive of the NBA they mark you as a NBA supporter.
    After reading this I sure now want to read your book Great post :-)

    Chitra said...

    Mansukhani and gupta its very easy to satrise an argument but its more important to understand it.
    You are anti NBA fine but read and try to first understand what you criticise.

    narad said...

    chitra it seems that you are either arundhati or medha in disguise or disgust

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Why is it that if somebody disagrees with you, they must be assumed to be an imposter, someone in disguise?

    CNG: the great thing about a democracy is that you can ask questions. The sad thing is to assume that we must stop asking those questions.

    In 1947, the leaders we had decided, "after taking everything into consideration and on a balance that it is in the interest of the country", that we should follow a kind of socialist path. Now I believe a lot of what we did in the wake of that decision was mistaken. But should I have "accepted this decision in all humility" and given it "whole hearted support"?

    If so, please forgive me, because I did not. Looking around me today, I see that a lot of other people did not either.

    Take another example: in 1975, Indira told us that she had taken a considered decision to apply the Emergency, in the interest of the nation. (Yes). Should I have accepted that decision "in all humility" and given it "whole hearted support"?

    If so, please forgive me again, because I did not. I think she was destroying the nation.

    On various grounds, I think that dam on the Narmada is a mistake, and it will not deliver what it promises. Therefore, I will ask questions about it.

    chitra said...

    Narad you talk like your namesake from mythology how easy to call anyone an imposter and get away with it
    you know if I wanted I could have called you narendra modi anyday its similar to the name you use.
    I completely agree with dilip's take on it but her is too polite for the likes of you.

    Suren said...

    tell you what:

    Let Arundhati be placed in charge of fasting and dharna for displaced Kashmiri pundits since she has an international stature.

    Let Medha look after Coke agitation cuz she is in water already.

    Siddhartha Shome said...

    Do read this excellent article by well-known Indian Feminist Madhu Kishwar. It reinforces the point I have been trying to make that the NBA is actively obstructing R&R.

    Dilip D'Souza said...

    Sid, for one thing, please don't call Madhu Kishwar a feminist -- she is famous for her "Why I am not a Feminist" essay(s).

    I know Madhu K well, and have great respect for her. I would like to respond to this piece by her, except I'm in Goa and am struggling to find time to do all the writing that needs to be done (that is, in between spells on the beach...).

    But one quick point here. Like many other people, she speaks about how R&R is essentially done in Gujarat and Maharashtra. But as I've pointed out before, that hardly means much. The great majority of people who are being displaced are in MP, and that's where R&R is failing. For just one example, I have documents from the NCA R&R sub committee itself that point this out. Feel as you wish about Medha and the NBA, I'm not interested in turning that impression around. But R&R in MP is a mess, even if there was no NBA.

    samarth said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    samarth said...

    For one thing, as you have made up your mind, do you simply wish this project to be a failure? Please go to any part of Gujarat where waters have already reached (as height 110 M would permit) so far (up to Kadi, which is start point for both Saurashtra and North Gujarat)and see the fundamental transformation happening. Then you will stop insinuating about ‘Project’s inherent false promises”, and understand why people cutting across the party lines or religion( U see very important in Modyland, yes Muslims too ! and this I am bringing because Madam Medha has tried to bring in Godhara for Narmada!) are so wholeheartedly supporting this as a CAUSE. Water tables have visibly gone up, Wells are recharged, salinity has been reduced, small rivers are recharged, and ever lingering anxieties of general population about ever looming draughts are somewhat assuaged. Then you will understand why Gujarat Govt. need not do any propaganda to garner support for this cause. But I think you should have been one of the residents there to understand their fundamental cry for water.