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‘Two million people will be affected by Uttarakhand dams’

Times of India, Aug 16, 2010

Suresh Bhai, a Dalit social and environment activist, is the founder and chairperson of Himalya Paryavaran Shiksha Sansthan, Uttarkashi. He is involved with various campaigns that demand a reconsideration of the plan to build over 300 hydel projects in Uttarakhand. Bharat Dogra spoke to Suresh Bhai as protests against the projects gain ground:

How did you get involved in the issue of dam construction?

We were involved in the protection of trees movement called Raksha Sutra (symbolised by women tying sacred threads on trees) and preparing a protective water policy for the newly created state. We had a forum called Jal Sanskriti Manch and teams of street theatre groups performed in various parts of the state to highlight the need to protect water. Projects like Tehri and Maneri Bhali had caused great damage in our vicinity. We noticed that at the time of the earthquake most people perished in those villages where land had been destabilised by explosions done for dam construction. So when dam construction work escalated, the issue became a priority for people and, therefore, for us. [more]