Brazil's glory

Print edition : July 20, 2002

Winning the World Cup for a record fifth time - it is really "Brazil's glory" (July 19). No doubt, the best team won. It should be an eye-opener to India, considering the fact that Brazil and India have many things in common.

We are nowhere in football, and the reasons for this are probably applicable in the case of other games too. We have to start with our children, and from our schools. There is the need for an attitudinal change. If the vision to make India a developed country is to succeed, we should have a vision to make it thrive in sports and games too.

A. Jacob Sahayam Received on e-mail Walking with R.K. Narayan

T.S. Satyan's article on the Grand Old Man of Indian English Writing ("Walking with R.K. Narayan", July 19), accompanied by the excellent photographs taken by him, depicting the various moods of R.K. Narayan, made interesting reading and reminded me of your two previous issues (October 18, 1996 and June 8, 2001) on the legendary writer which I preserve. This issue will also be preserved as it provides rare insights into Narayan's personal life, habits, likes and dislikes, thoughts, and so on, for which "Malgudi's creator" will always be remembered.

While going through the article, I felt deeply touched by my Parker fountain pen with a 'thick point nib' and my Kodak film box (in which I too keep betelnuts), which have been my constant companions over the past 25 years, not to speak of the curd-rice with pickles (mango/lemon), sambar and rasam, and the decoction "kapi" (coffee) to which we vegetarian-Tamilians are sort of addicted to.

S. Balakrishnan Jamshedpur Choosing a President

Anand Parthasarathy's article on the rise of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam ("Choosing a President", July 5) was impressive. At the same time, I was distressed to read the 'Essay' by Aijaz Ahmad where he has this to say about Kalam: "... his extraordinary dedication to the creation of weapons of mass destruction is his sole claim to fame and eminence. He has no other achievement to his credit."

I find in Kalam a patriot-scientist fit to adorn India's Presidency. In fact, his election will be a loss to the world of science.

Prof. B.M. Baliga Bangalore * * *

The right to differ and dissent is sacred but it should not degenerate into unbridled outburst as in the last sentence of the article by Sukumar Muralidharan, in which he has tried to tarnish the image of Dr. Zakir Hussain by attributing to him an unauthenticated comment on the Presidency that "it is easier to elect a Muslim to Rashtrapathi Bhavan than to appoint a clerk in the Central government". The heresay quoted may be in tune with your editorial "An Unsuitable Choice".

K.G. Sukumara Pillai Thiruvananthapuram * * *

Choosing a presidential candidate, with religion marked in red in his curriculum vitae, is not going to ease tensions. After all, rehabilitating displaced Hindus in Hindu localities and Muslims in Muslim ones only created isolated pockets for future uprisings, rather than ensuring the safety of the new occupants.

Second, the much-talked-about experience criterion has direct relevance to the 'job description' and 'job expectation' of the post. A.G. Noorani aptly states that the President, as the umpire of the political game of cricket, must know its rules. So what if he himself cannot play it well!

But are the players themselves well-versed with the rules of the game? Are they qualified enough to play for an entire nation? We never discuss the credentials of a Cabinet Minister or a Minister of State. We expect them to perform because they are the 'people's choice'.

And unless the players play the game, the umpire will have little to do. So leave the President alone. Go after the team. Besides, the umpire, when in doubt, can check with the written-down manual. The third umpire. The Constitution of India.

Manish Mamtani Mumbai Balancing act

The report "Balancing Act" (June 21) is a biased one.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was compelled to induct new faces into the Ministry by the Congress(I) high command, mainly through the pressure put on him by Ambika Soni, who wanted to oblige her old-time lieutenants, some of them arch rivals of the Chief Minister.

As regards the dropped Minister Zakia Inam, she is a well-respected and senior leader from the minority section. She came out with a policy on women, which won praise from national and international women's organisations. The Chief Minister probably felt overshadowed by all the attention she was getting and resorted to the only option he had - of dropping her from the Ministry.

The other dropped Minister, Indira Mayaram, is perhaps the most dynamic woman leader in Rajasthan.

She comes from a distinguished family of freedom fighters, and is known to be straight and outspoken and to have devoted her life to working for the deprived and vulnerable sections of society.

Indira Mayaram's grassroots connections are so strong that she is perceived as a major threat to all incumbent Ministers in the State.

Two women out of four dropped Ministers, and that too under a woman observer, speaks volumes of the Congress Ministry in the State. Fifteen new Ministers, and not a single woman!

Bhatti Narendra Singh Jaipur Maan project

The article "Hell and high water" (June 21) is not based on facts. Here is the fact-sheet of the Maan project. The project submerges only 785 hectares of private land in 18 villages and the total number of project-affected families (PAFs) is 993. The land was acquired between 1983 and 1995 and full compensation was paid to the landowners. As per the rehabilitation policy of the Madhya Pradesh government, 448 PAFs, who will lose 25 per cent or more of their land, are eligible for allotment of land and 805 PAFs for allotment of plots for houses.

The policy gives the PAF the freedom either to accept land from the government in lieu of land coming under submergence or to opt for full compensation in cash in lieu of land. Following this procedure, 62 PAFs (not 22 as your correspondent has mentioned) were allotted land and the remaining 385 PAFs were given full compensation as desired by them. One case is pending in the civil court. Out of the remaining 385 PAFs, as many as 124 have purchased land with the compensation amount and also taken advantage of the provision for exemption from stamp duty and registration charges.

The Government of Madhya Pradesh has further sanctioned a special rehabilitation grant to those who lost their lands, providing an additional amount that is three times the compensation already given to them. For example, the compensation given for irrigated land earlier was Rs.58,000 a hectare. Now an additional amount of Rs.1,54,000 is being given. The PAFs have also been permitted to till their land in the past 15 years after its acquisition by the government. The displaced persons who want to buy land get full support from the district administration.

Four resettlement and rehabilitation sites have been developed with all civic amenities; 295 plots have been developed on these and allotted. The rest of the PAFs have chosen to shift to villages of their choice and have taken money in lieu of plots. Thus rehabilitation package as per the policy has covered all PAFs.

The State government has enhanced various grants payable to the PAFs. Clearly, the rehabilitation policy of Madhya Pradesh is one of the best in the country. About 85 per cent of the PAFs have already shifted to alternative sites and only about 145 remain to be shifted. Only those public properties that face submergence have been demolished. The doors and windows will be used elsewhere. The trees had to be felled as otherwise fishermen's boats could get entangled when the reservoir is full.

The government has also constituted a fully autonomous Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA), where any PAF feeling aggrieved by any order of the government can file a complaint. The orders passed by the Authority are binding on the government. Not a single PAF of the Maan project has filed a complaint before the GRA. Local people as well as their constitutional representatives are in favour of early completion of the project.

At a time when the rehabilitation of all the PAFs is complete, it is surprising to find mention of a report of some Task Force which states that only 5 per cent of the resettlement and rehabilitation work has been completed.

Similarly, there is no substance in the so-called Indian People's Tribunal report that the Maan project would irrigate only 3,300 hectares against 15,000 ha, which is envisaged. In the total cultivable command area of the Maan project, only 2,556 ha is under irrigation at present. The culturable command area of the project is 15,000 ha spread over 57 villages, of which 9,600 ha is for the rabi season, which is based on the actual survey. It will also irrigate 9,300 ha in the kharif season and provide irrigation for perennial crops on 300 ha. It is not true that an additional 1,200 ha can be brought under irrigation from existing irrigation structures.

The Maan project is the first of its kind in the drought-prone Dhar district. As the project is in the scheduled areas, 85 per cent of its beneficiaries will be tribal people.

L.K. Joshi Commissioner, Public Relations Madhya Pradesh government Bhopal

Correspondent Lyla Bavadam writes:

During the course of writing assignments on the subject, I have consistently made attempts to contact government representatives connected with the Narmada dams. But it is only in rare instances that a response is forthcoming, and even then the specifics are glossed over. Information for articles is gathered from interviews with the affected people and Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) representatives and from official government documents. I have often asked NBA members to quote their sources and they confirm that they frequently use published official information apart from their own extensive groundwork.

The letter from the Commissioner of Public Relations says there is "785 hectares of private land in 18 villages and the total number of PAFs is 993". The official government Gazette of December 2001 lists the number of submergence villages as 17. Now the government says there are 18 villages on the verge of submergence.

The Gazette not only gives the figure of Project Affected Families as 1,262 but also names these families. The article mentioned "some 993 affected people" simply because that was the officially provided figure. Once again, there are two official figures for the same fact.

The Grievance Redressal Authority existed for the Onkareshwar and Narmada Sagar projects. It was only a few months ago that Maan was also attached to it. However, no notification was published of this fact and the Maan-affected people were not aware that there was a GRA to whom they could address complaints.

As regards the rest of the letter, making public the following details will bring about a degree of transparency and public involvement in the project:

1. The names of the 62 PAFs who have already been allotted land as well as the location of this land.

2. The names and original villages of the 385 PAFs who have received full compensation.

3. Proof that this compensation was desired by them, including proof that the Collector had indeed studied the case of each (if they are Adivasis) to see that cash in lieu of land would not harm the applicants' interests.

4. The names and original villages of the 124 PAFs who have purchased land from the compensation amount, along with details of the amount of land they initially had, the amount of land they have been able to purchase, and the location of this land.

5. The names and locations of the four R&R sites which have been developed with all civic amenities. How many people have built homes at these sites? Are there agricultural lands adjoining these sites?

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

The COVID-19-induced lockdown and the absolute necessity for human beings to maintain a physical distance from one another in order to contain the pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. The print medium all over the world is no exception.

As the distribution of printed copies is unlikely to resume any time soon, Frontline will come to you only through the digital platform until the return of normality. The resources needed to keep up the good work that Frontline has been doing for the past 35 years and more are immense. It is a long journey indeed. Readers who have been part of this journey are our source of strength.

Subscribing to the online edition, I am confident, will make it mutually beneficial.

Sincerely,

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

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