(Some readers have construed from my writings that I am OK with trampling rights of the people just because I support construction of the dam and pooh-pooh NBA. Here’s my response).
I am very much for people's rights. They cannot be trampled – I strongly believe it. While we seem to fight well for our rights, we seem to ignore many of our duties. I am just putting forth an opposing view because our nation seems to be enamored and wooed by the sentimental show put up my these two ladies, cashing in on methods employed by a freedom fighter fifty years ago. We seem to equate all those antiquity methods with virtuousness. Going to jail (even for murder), sacrificing (like Sonia did for other ulterior motives), fasting (like Medha Patkar severely affecting millions of others), taking out a yatra (like Advani to promote communalism), are all glorified only because this is exactly what Mahatma Gandhi did long ago. Whatever may be the 'goal' (selfish or selfless) the 'means' they employ seem to have a great impact.
When flooding happens, due to construction of dam- small or big, the government allocates land elsewhere. This happened with all dams before and so is happening with
Most of the time, the land is allocated at a different place (cannot be same place since it is being submerged), and sometimes it is compensated through money/cash. Whether you accept the new land or not, accept the cash or not is up to each individual. He may take the cash and blow it up on liquor- that’s his right.
In some countries, you have no option to refuse compensation. The
I will be sad if my land is taken away. We all do. I may be happy or unhappy with the compensation- but I have to do it for the well-being of my country- that includes me and million others. I may be sad when paying taxes but I have to do it, because it is in the best interest of others as well mine. I could easily argue why am I the only one paying tax (because only 3% Indians pay taxes) while the rest (97%) is enjoying the benefits? May be, I should also go on a hunger strike to abolish taxes. This whole idea of stopping a development effort because you are not satisfied with compensation will never allow us to do anything in this country. People are always unsatisfied- they don’t want to pay wealth taxes or income taxes. Actually, they don’t want to pay up for anything. They encroach upon lands from forests and never give them up, they throw garbage on the streets and never pay for the cleaning, and they resort to illegal methods to avoid paying anything to the government. While they are ready to come out into streets to fight for their rights, they never step out to conduct their duties.
Many a times, encroachment by people shrinks the roads to narrow lanes, and when Government wants to widen them, we see a spate of protests and hunger-strikes. People squat on public lands, and when government tries to remove them, they go on strikes and mass movements, and people like Arundhati Roy supports them. Even when compensated, they are not happy with it. They just don’t want to move, no matter what the compensation is. And to make sure the project doesn’t take place, they do not even accept the compensation and blame government for inadequate rehabilitation.
NBA doesn’t want any compensation. NBA doesn’t want the Dam. Medha Patkar, in her initial days, even protested against any rehabilitation- she reasoned rehab would change the way those tribals lived. NBA has been changing their slogan- first it was ‘No Dam’ and now it is ‘First rehab, then Dam’. Then they will say ‘Let the rehab bear fruit, let the kids grow up liking the new place, let the people be happy and satisfied, and then may be a Dam’. By then millions would have died elsewhere after a series of droughts!
As a nation, we can’t stop such development activities to satisfy everyone. You don’t go about asking people if they want to pay taxes. If one were to take a poll, most of
Fight for your rights. And also do your duties. In my opinion, NBA is all about fighting for rights, and completely renouncing their duties.