'Vajpayee, Advani not above board'

Updated on Apr 22, 2004 08:54 PM IST

Money and allied benefits form part of the big give and take of electoral politics, says Medha Patkar in a two-part interview with Shali Ittaman.

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HT Image

Picture Medha Patkar: She is this selfless, peace loving, determined woman in a hand-knit saree tearing away with ready bags on her shoulders as if she had to get home before the rains.

People will tell you she has feared the rains ever since they began damming the Narmada. During the rains the dam fills and flushes down the Narmada Valley, submerging forests and fertile lands, sweeping away entire villages and wrecking the lives of hundred of thousands of people living there for ages.

Medha had come to the Valley 20 years ago when the first bricks were just being laid on the dam. When she realised what it would do to the Valley and its people, she decided to stay on and warn them.

Today, the Valley is her home. The Valley's people are her big family. She stays with them, guides them, marshals them, protests with them and when the rains come, prepares to drown with them.

I met Medha on March 7 in Mumbai to capture years of her work in a three-hour interview. I warned her that I had an unhappy questionnaire, which was based on some hostile commentary she had drawn from pro-dam lobbyists.

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