Coastal corridors are hunting grounds for corporates

Coastal corridors are hunting grounds for corporates
Highlights

The idea of a river is crucial to understanding the politics of control and dominance, and hegemony of an ecological thought system. It is equally essential to bring to the forefront people\'s perceptions of river and its flows.

‘The idea of a river is crucial to understanding the politics of control and dominance, and hegemony of an ecological thought system. It is equally essential to bring to the forefront people's perceptions of river and its flows. I work with examples of these ideas from the people of Godavari (those who live by and along the river or whom the river touches in direct and indirect ways) as well as from examples of colonial perception that has managed to flow down to the politics of Andhra Pradesh in no small ways.’

This abstract about the book - ‘When Godavari Comes: People's History of a River - Journeys in the Zone of the Dispossessed’ written by R Umamaheshwari, a noted historian, environmentalist and journalist aptly sums just about everything on the much-debated issue of the villages to be submerged by the Indira Sagar Polavaram National multi-purpose Project of Andhra Pradesh-Telangana. As a journalist, she has been researching and writing on the Polavaram dam and displacement since 2006 issue under two media fellowships - Prem Bhatia Memorial Scholarship and NFI Media fellowship.

At a book-reading session on Thursday night at Lamakaan, the author, a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, since March 2014, showed a film and read out excerpts from her voluminous book (around 500 pages, published by Aakar Books and priced at Rs 1295) which poignantly highlighted the various upheavals that the likely affected population are going through at present.

Once her reading session got over, there were a flurry of questions from the well-informed audience who raised pertinent queries about the purpose of this project, the sham of environmental impact assessments conducted, the jinx that the project itself was since the 1940’s and how expert opinions have still wanted the project to materialize albeit with diversions and route corrections.

With her nearly decade-long exposure to the project related developments, Umamaheshwari answered all the posers with enough nuggets of data and relevant information. Beginning from 2006 and ending her information collation exercise by mid-2014, the author had managed to get the book released at Shimla in September this year. “Not before a prominent publishing house sitting on it for two years and delaying its release for that long,” she revealed during the course of her interactions.

This was just one unknown fact about the book. The other revelations included how the coastal corridors of the world are emerging to be battlegrounds between the corporates and civil society. In fact, as the author said, the diversion of dam water is to facilitate industrial activity in the other regions of Andhra Pradesh, particularly in the petrochemical industry zones.Clearly a labour of love, as she says she is still fond of taking notes in long hand, the author admitted that she wanted to avoid cramming her book with expert opinions and agenda-driven pamphleteers and instead focus on the dispossessed human beings who have been cheated over and over for more than a century now.

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