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FOCUS March 2001 Volume 23

Damn the Dams

by Cecil Rajendra

Straddling the river
like a Colossus
the Millenium Dam
stands tall, arrogant
its broad shoulders
stemming a field
of water the size
of a small country.

The Dam's offered vision:
cheap electricity to
every household & family;
guaranteed relief & control
of farmlands once flooded;
vital piped water to
fields once arid; reservoirs
were touted as rich
breeding grounds teeming
with fish to feed the hungry.

The unedited version
tells a different story:
butterflies were flooded out
as were cobra & python;
tiger, tapir, elephant
the rare sumatran rhinoceros
& mousedeer are homeless;
the orang utan is an orphan
while salmon face extinction.

Ecosystem and people alike
were dismantled by this icon
of pride, progress & power.
But neither the hillside tribes
farmer, fisherman or peasant
(displaced by the million)
received a cent of compensation;
only the contractor & politician
- often the same person -
reaped the rich rewards gen-
erated by megawatts of corruption.

Narmada, San Roque
Sardar Sarovar
Pak Mun, Bakun
Three Gorges in China. ..
Vision or delusion?
saviour or destroyer?
what future do your
waters hold for our children?
Narmada, San Roque
Sardar Sarovar
Pak Mun, Bakun
Three Gorges in China
what future do your
waters hold for our children?


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