The students and staff of the Army Institute of Law gathered in the Multi Purpose Hall on 25th January, 2018, to attend the lecture on Dams and Development: Stress Factors For Environment and Society which was delivered by Dr. Namita Gupta from the Centre for Human Rights and Duties, Punjab University.Dr. Gupta started the lecture by telling the audience the actual purpose of dams and hydroelectric projects. Many of those present were of the view that dams are sources of abundant green energy, which was later proven to be a myth by Dr. Gupta. She put forth extremely unknown facts as to how due to the process of production, dams contribute to 19% of green house gas emission in India. The audience were shocked to discover how these dams interfere with the aquatic life, forest cover, and lives of the people residing in the places which are taken over by the government for dam construction. The amount of research Dr. Gupta had put in this topic while authoring her 28 research papers and her published book, Environment Administration in India: Issues and Concerns, could be clearly seen as she presented various facts and studies dealing with how these reservoirs induce seismicity and also lead to the grave diseases of malaria, dengue and Schistosomiasis during the course of their construction.
She made the audience aware about how the government was not doing its part properly in relocating the people whose lands it acquires for construction, decommissioning old dams which have been in use since the British times and are now on the verge of collapse. The government also fails to conduct the imperative environment impact assessment without which no such constructions can and should take place. Two of the many examples when such assessment was overlooked were those of the Rengali Project in Odisha and the Bargi Project in Madhya Pradesh. By examples of various existing dams, Dr. Gupta showed how flawed the planning and executing schemes of the nation are.
This informative and thought provoking session was ended with a huge round of applause and a very apt quote by Baba Umar : “when we build a big dam, it is like a ticking time bomb. If we don’t maintain or operate it properly, it can cause massive destruction.”
This write-up was prepared by Sharanya Shrivastava (1st Year)