1st March, 2004
Some 245 Indian villages are in the middle of being destroyed by a $7 billion dam project that will consume more energy than it provides and has even been condemned by its World Bank sponsors.
I’d always wondered what it would be like to go back, to see what had happened to Domkhedi. Now I got my answer. As our boat pulled into the village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, I found my old friend Katrikaki sheltering in a cattle shed on top of the hill with her large family.
All that remained of her house, where three years ago I’d slept, eaten and laughed, was a collapsed roof and the sturdy central wooden beams poking out of the water. Next to Katrikaki’s old home, in a similar state of submerged ruin, lay the 10 houses of her extended family. There was no sign of the lamp-post around which we used to gather to dance and sing in the evening. The look of shock was still imprinted on everybody’s faces. It was only two weeks earlier that the water level in the reservoir had risen and caused the final collapse of their homes, which had already been weakened by temporary submergence last year.
At the same time their fields had been submerged and their crops destroyed, leading to severe food shortages for this isolated subsistence community. The submergence was not due to the recent heavy rains alone. It was intentionally planned by the authorities, who had released...
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