Thursday, June 30, 2011

Polavaram Dam: A Public Health Problem

So a few weeks ago I went on a trip to Chatti near where the states of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and Cchattisgard meet. It was a super fun trip and I was able to meet and learn about the Koya people.

They are a tribal community here in India that is being threatened by the building of the Polavaram Dam. The Dam in the current project would be a high dam that would displace somewhere around 312 villages and affect over 400,000 people, the majority of them tribals. One thing to know about tribal people here in India, they have special rights because of their lifestyle, but those rights are only attached to the land. If they lose the land then they lose their rights and their way of living and culture will most likely disappear because they cannot replicate those lifestyles in other areas.

In addition to this, the large water reservoir would create more exposure to water-borne diseases since while that area has deep rivers, does not have many other water sources besides those.

Another issue, (besides the obvious displacement of thousands of people) is that all of this project, the approvals, the construction, has gone on illegally. And it will affect tribals in two other states as well. You can see where the problems come in.

Another issue is that of the placement of the dam. It is placed in the most population-dense area of Andhra Pradesh: the delta area and the city of Rajamundry. If there was to be a massive flood that the dam couldn't hold, and if the dam broke at all, then within a few hours 5 million people could die as a result of the flow. This is a major problem that despite being addressed by a few key experts, is being ignored by those who are in charge of the project and the politicians who are tied to those campaigns and other "contributions."

And then there's the other issue of the Koya people themselves. They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They are so friendly and kind and willing to work with and help progress themselves and others.

At the Kulu Pu festival

With the Kids from the Village

Cute little girl

Wonderful people and their celebrations of life

I LOVE this picture. That girl was so nice and we had so much fun playing and talking.

I can just tell that this woman exudes wisdom!

The committee who we met who help fight for tribal rights

Where the Sabari and the Godavari Rivers meet. It would be submerged under the current dam project

A Koya village head in Orissa

The boat that travels between Orissa and Andhra Pradesh

Overall, it's a really interesting and complex issue and I'm glad that I'm able to help provide services to an organization who is campaigning for tribal rights and promoting education about this project. Let's hope that things turn in favor of the tribals!


Post a Comment