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India: Dams and Displacements June 23,2016   |  Source: The Sequitur

Once Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and the architect of modern India, while inaugurating the Bhakra Dam described dams as ‘temples of modern India’. But the tragedy that struck diversion tunnel No.3 of the Tehri Dam on August 3, 2004 killing 27 labourers, and the imminent extinction of the 700 year old Harsud town in Madhya Pradesh by rising water level in the Indira Sagar Dam, has rekindled fears of environmentalists regarding viability of big dams.

Environmentalists have lobbied hard in the past decade to prevent large dams being built. These dams, they say, will submerge natural forest, disrupt downstream fisheries and possibly inundate and salinate land along the canals, increasing the danger of insect-borne diseases. Much of the debate has also centred on the propriety of building large dams when smaller dams might do. Some scientists believe that the construction of big dams could cause earthquakes and, in a country as disorganized as India, it is likely that necessary maintenance of these dams may suffer. However, one of the most contentious issues has been the displacement of up to a quarter of a million people, many of whom belong to small tribal communities. So, it is imperative to look at these issues.

In the recent years,

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