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Big dams lead to "tremendous losses" to environment and livelihood: Activists, exprerts

By Our Representative
Participating in a dialogue in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, environmentalists and activists said that presented said that big dams lead to "tremendous losses" to the environment and livelihood of the people. The dialogue was organized by Narmada Bachao Andolan, Matu Jan Sangathan and Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh.
Social activist Medha Patkar presented several case studies to outline how undemocratically and unscientifically dams are being pushed forward without credible studies over environment, social and economic repercussions. Not even one third of irrigation targets have been achieved by the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the electricity generation is shut for a year. About 21,000 km of canals are yet to be completed, dry Kutch has also been left halfway from the benefits of this water, she added.
Vimal Bhai from Uttarakhand blamed the dams on Ganga-Bhagirathi in the Himalayan region for the 2013 floods. GO Jose from Kerala raised the same issue in the context of Kerala and demanded an independent enquiry on the role of dams for the recent floods in the state. Chinmaya Mishra, senior journalist, expressed concerns over the destruction of rivers, forests and farmlands rather than issues over religion and caste that will destroy the future.
Devram Kanera, Kailash Avasya and Dinesh Bhilala highlighted the plight of the displaced from Sardar Sarovar, Jobat dams. Rajkumar Sinha of Bargi Bandh Visthapit Sangh spoke on behalf of the displaced of Bargi dam who have still not been rehabilitated after 28 years. Only 43,700 hectares out of 70,000 ha. planned irrigation have been realized. Electricity targets have not been realized. Bargi dam has just become a feeder of Sardar Sarovar dam. Its waters are being given to industries and power plants instead of irrigation.
Rehmat Bhai of Manthan Adhyay Kendra presented research reports that prove severe corruption in the name of irrigation. Thinker Rakesh Diwan asked people to consider traditional irrigation methods and small scale electricity generation not as an alternative but as the primary way to manage rivers. Dams like Hirakud or Narmada are cheating in the name of development as they have only promoted corruption and destroyed nature.
Vinit Tiwari, National Secretary, Akhil Bharatiya Pragatishil Lekhak Sangh, highlighted the case of Indira Sagar Dam where 140000 ha. of land was submerged to irrigate 110000 ha. land! Irrigation is just a trick, real intention of these projects is to reap corporate profits rather than ensure food security of the nation.

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