Dams: The vocabulary of protest

While opponents of dam-building base their protests on issues of compensation, rehabilitation, submergence, seismic hazards, religious sentiments and cultural intrusion, in essence what is happening is that highlanders have understood the economic value of the rivers flowing through their valleys. They are seeking fair payment.

When World War II ended in 1945 and the British left South Asia two years later, the rivers of the Himalaya were still unbound by the high dams already ubiquitous in North America and Europe. Not for long, however. The new rulers of the Indian Union were convinced that rapid industrialisation was the path to progress, and hydropower was to fuel that growth. Dams, decreed independent India´s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, would serve as the temples of modern India, and in the decades to follow, these temples were consecrated in river after Himalayan river.

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Himal Southasian