29 April, 2006

Growing intolerance

Ah, I have not updated this blog for a long time now. Almost two months! Meanwhile, several things have happened. I am particularly concerned about the growing intolerance among the people. See what happened when Amir Khan extended support to the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which has opposed raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam across the river.

NBA offices in Gujarat were ransacked. Youth Congress workers stalled the screening of Aamir Khan movie 'Rang De Basanti'. The workers also burnt Aamir's posters at Aradhana theatre, where the movie is being screened and appealed his fans to come out of the hall, police said. BJP youth wing workers burnt effigy of Aamir Khan in Ahmedabad.

A local Congress leader Narendra Ravat said they will not allow screening of Aamir Khan's film in the city, while the president of Gujarat unit of Youth Congress Mihir Shah has threatened that movie theatres in Gujarat will not be allowed to screen his movies.

National general secretary of BJP youth wing Amit Thakar said they will not allow screening of Aamir's films in entire Gujarat, Mumbai, Jaipur and Bhopal from April 15.

"We will teach him a lesson by not allowing to screen any of his films in future," he threatened.

What's happening? Everyone in the society has a right to say and do what they want, subject only to public order, decency and morality. Then, why this intolerance when a celebrity says or does what he feels? Why can't those 'workers' try to explain what they feel and convince the peolpe and get their support? Why this misplaced anger? Where are we going?

More land will be irriagted if the dam's height is raised. But it is feared that huge dams lead to environmental disasters. Suggested alternatives are: a large number of small dams, check dams, soak pits, and rainwater harvesting, etc.

And the immediate concern of people like Medha Patkar is the welfare of the people who get displaced as a result of raising the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam. These people get uprooted from their villages with top priority, get deported to another palce where, having lost their links with their homeland, with their past, with their means of livelihood, they are left in the lurch as unwelcome guests in the new place without even proper shelter if at least the rehabilitation work is not done properly.

They in fact allege that the Centre and the concerned State governments have been negligent in pursuing the task of rehabilitating the displaced people as a result of raising the height of Sardar Sarovar Dam.

Patkar fears and for genuine reasons that, the displaced people will lose everything they have and gain nothing as the Govt's promised rehabilitation will be too late and too little as she feels that the rehabilitation work is not being done in accordance with directive of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal and the Supreme Court’s orders.

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