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Saturday, May 10, 2003

In India the River Narmada has come to symbolise the struggle for a just, equitable and genuinely democratic society. The story is complicated but in brief, the Government's plan is to build 30 large, 135 medium + 3000 small dams to harness the waters of the Narmada and its tributaries.

The proponents of the dam claim that this plan would provide large amounts of water + electricity which are desperately required for the purposes of development.

Opponents of the dam question the basic assumptions of the Narmada Valley Development Plan and believe that its planning is unjust + inequitous and the cost-benefit analysis is grossly inflated in favour of building the dams.

Author Arundhati Roy has written a most eloquent essay entitled "The Greater Common Good" which sums up many of the problems well-intentioned "top-down" development plans can cause for the local communities that are displaced, or otherwise adversely affected, (with little or no legal protection or compensation) by national development plans...