The decision to raise the height of the Narmada dam (June 13) is welcome and it is hoped that water scarcity will soon be a thing of the past in the region. At the same time, the Central and State governments should not ignore the plight of the people who are certain to be displaced. They should be provided with proper compensation and rehabilitation as they are giving up what is precious to them for the national good.
If the water is not made available, a large quantity will merely drain into the Arabian Sea, agriculture will suffer and there will be a shortfall in power generation. The record of activists on the issue of resettlement and rehabilitation of those displaced earlier is spotty. Also, their stance was largely a blanket “no” to all hydel projects. Activists appear to be largely anti-development.
The fact that the one lakh people already displaced have yet to be rehabilitated in full does not speak well about the governments concerned. One trusts that the Modi government, which has professed concern for inclusive democracy and for the poor and the marginalised, will now take into confidence the Andolan leaders and put into operation a system for fair and expeditious compensation and rehabilitation.