The odd thing was that I went back to CSDS, after two decades, for a meeting called by Dr Jhoonjoonwala over the hydroelectric dam to be built over the Alaknanda. The World Bank had asked for a meeting with activists resisting the dam. World Bank representatives were quite complacent that the dam was a given, the energy was good, that the affected people would be compensated, that the dam was being built in an uninhabited space (two ravines and water coursing between). Uninhabited was used by Michael Levy just like Zionists spoke about Palestine in the 1950s!
Dr J and the Manushi representative Madhu Kishwar did an about turn, from the other activists, and said “Fine!” if it cannot be avoided, then lets talk compensation in exchange for cleaning the river Ganga. Strangest meeting I’ve been to. I lost, in total seven hours and one thousand rupees on transport, in this Save the Ganga project (one meeting at Gandhi Peace Foundation, and one at CSDS) but what about the villagers, who were introduced by the World Bank to new digital technology which shows the ancient river shifted from its bed, and twinkling with lights rushing to the city to create more energy for bright lights and malls. Their farming has gone for zuk, and I did not ask what the height of the dam would be because it is still hypothetical anyway, given people’s movements in India, which always communicates that it has learnt from the mistakes of the West. The Greens movement always is hopeful that the dialogue between the intellectuals and the local intelligentsia will be marked with a Paolo Freirian optimism, that the coexistence between industry and agriculture does not mean the extinction of the organic. Sitting in a shutup room, boarded up, without fans on, it got really hot for me and as an observer over this seemingly short lived “Save the Ganga Project” I returned to the Delhi of the traffic jams which had held me hostage for one hour and forty five minutes from JNU to Rajpur Road because of the 5.30 office rush hour jam