The proposed man-made reservoir in Medak District, Telangana called Mallana Sagar to provide water for irrigating 20 lakh acres in three districts with a storage capacity of 50 TMC is the subject of debate. This ambitious project will be submerging up to 14 villages but would help irrigate up to 400 villages. Although, many times we can reason that for the greater good the sacrifices have to be made but the government can make good the losses and reduce the pain of transition for the people whose lives are affected and get them onboard with the project. It should be like a boon rather than a sacrifice. The due compensation should benefit each and every member of the whole community. The community members should decide on the choices without fear or hostility rather they should feel proud to be part of this project. In a special case like this, even after we achieved Telangana we do not need a group of unhappy people because of forceful implementation of GO 123 or Land Acquisition Act 2013 by government on those people who are not even educated enough to understand the immediate and after effects of such a sudden drastic change.
The universal fact is that change is tough and also change happens often for good. Lot of people resist change and in fact most people hate change and a small change can bring the whole cycle of physical, mental, psychological impact to one. However, to persuade that the change is good and change is for better is what needs to be convinced and which is only possible by negotiating change. For greater good, sacrifices are to be made, it should not be so colossal that lives are shattered rather it should be so appeasing that the people themselves are wanting to be part of the change.
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Telling people that they need to give up their way of life and what’s theirs and that it is inevitable will only invoke fear. The best way to alleviate that fear is to directly involve the individuals affected in the actual change process. This should be done to the greatest extent possible. Although, there is nothing you can do to incorporate some input into the change and there might be individuals who will be deeply opposed to what is taking place and some might not adapt to this change and a public debate on these topics might give a way to convince and be heard and see if there are any alternatives. To explain the merits of this project and how it impacts overall is what needs to be discussed and how many people will be benefitted
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle.
While many governments have previously made similar decisions on similar irrigation projects the previous government’s actions not having a backlash cannot be a reason or excuse to convince the people opposing the current project. In fact, the better thing would be to do the opposite and be open and take feedback and learn from the past mistakes. Whenever it involves people and emotions, it will always be a newer challenge irrespective of how many times this kind of projects happened in the past.
The issue at hand is just not about the compensation but it is about changing the whole way of living, life and every setting around them that is being displaced. There are lot of families and people in different trades and professions who live off working in different areas who don’t even currently have land and question is how will the government compensate them. The compensation has to be double in my opinion that even may be 100% premium to the market rate. In addition, even land should be given and also a freshly constructed community for those being displaced. May be this is the time they need to think of building smart villages too and build them a best infrastructure that they cannot refuse.
It is important to ease the transition from the old to the new way of life. This will result in less agitation from the people who are being forced into the greatest changes. This should be the way to deal rather than talking about Nehru or Chandrababu or someone else and trying to make a point that in their eras similar projects were constructed. The first underlying condition for a negotiation is to reduce the arrogance when you are going against the poorest of the poor and start negotiating rather than forcing. Other important things to do would be to put a debate, educate the public and convince public who are going to lose their livelihood. Let everyone put themselves in the shoes of the displaced people and let us all empathize with the people and provide them guarantees immediate and future.
To conclude, it is never an option to let few suffer to make others happy unless you can convince them to work with you voluntarily!!!
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein