Pt. Girija Shanker Sharma - Hoshangabaad MLA PDF Print E-mail

Student: Sir, in your words what are your views on the River Narmada?

MLA: The River Narmada is one of the holy rivers of India. It is mentioned in the Purans that the River Narmada is holier than the River Ganges because you will get to bathe in the Ganges; people all over the world come to do so. But just to see the River Narmada is to receive its blessings. You do not need to do anything else. One more thing which is said is that the River Ganges is most pure only at Kanthal. But the River Narmada is pure right from Amarkantak all the way down. At Narmada Khan, there are a lot of devotees who gather regularly.

Student: The most controversial topic of the river is the dam to be built on the River Narmada. According to you is the dam beneficial or not?

MLA: See, this issue is not a controversial issue in the first place. There are a few people who are against progress and development. By and large this controversy is instigated using foreign funds. HoshangabaadZillah is a prosperous one due to agriculture. This is the reason because at Tawa a dam was built around 20 years back. After the dam was built in another 5 years we have steady irrigation. The Employment Guarantee scheme is not active in any of the villages here. This is because of the secured employment generated by agriculture thanks to the dam which was built. This is an indicator that there is no poverty here. The person who is really poor here is the person who doesn’t want to do anything for himself. Even the Tawa dam was built under controversy. Even then the people opposed it. Meetings have been held, protests have been called, and even Medha Patkar had landed there to instigate the people against the dam. When dams have to be built on the big rivers like the Ganga, the usual verdict is that the river is a holy river and should not be dammed. But at Tawa the reason which was given is that the soil will go bad. There was a protest which went on for years against it. The Press fueled the fire. Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu reported that the land at Hoshangabaad is been destroyed. So we went out to search which land was really destroyed. Out of 5 lakh acres of land, you would probably find 1 acre of land where irrigation had not reached. We have a village called Pyawvra, where there was a small area where people used to have some issue. So even at that time we faced a lot of issues. When the agitation held public meetings, even we landed up there and gave satisfactory answers to each and every question which was raised. After that they backed down. I remember during the Chambal project, the same thing happened. Whenever there are projects involving dams, these people have reached there to start agitations. Our Government still goes soft on these agitators. We encourage open debates and discussions. People can then openly air their views on the same. First they try to fuel the fire and then they try to get the people agitated. I remember, during the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, you will see the same people. They might dress like the adivasis and locals, but they are professionals who are trained to lead these agitations. This is an organized game. I am surprised but as to why the visitors to this place support the same. These agitations get national and international media coverage. I am in complete support of the dam. A through technical evaluation needs to be carried out in advance.

Tiwari: Does the River Narmada have an effect on both, the settled communities and the tribal communities? Is there a contrast?

MLA: The river affects everyone. A lot of direct and indirect resources are obtained from the river. This leads to development of the people socially and economically. The tribal community faces a problem of food and employment. That is why their development is slow. The Tawa Dam for example was built on the river, because of which the reservoir which was created. Now when the water in the reservoir is used up, land is exposed in large quantities. The tribal community grows crops on such exposed land. They use the receding water from the reservoir by means of pumps. In this way the dam has affected them as well. Communication is weak in the interior so is electrical supply in the tribal areas. A lot of people complain of the culture of these tribal communities is being destroyed by us. We must understand that change is constant and keeps up with the time. Progress is natural. When development is happening all over the world, why should it not happen in the tribal areas? The change is never forced. This is a democratic society.

MLA: One more thing is that these people do not want to get into a controversy or a controversial situation. If the Media catches her, they will run a story and plaster her picture in the paper. There is a right use Labor Protection Rights. Like the Dowry Protection Law, it is misused. But these laws must be used in the right way. It should not be used for absolutely anything and everything. There is no proper implementation of these laws. Entire families have landed up in jail because of the wrong doings of a few.

 

“There was a time when I used to believe in the good in this world. I visited the Narmada. Now, I believe in the great.”