Sunday, July 25, 2004

Harsud: Development through Drowning

India News > Harsud (Madhya Pradesh), July 10 (IANS) :

On the brink of falling down the precipice of history as waters from the Narmada dam wait to submerge it, this ghost town without any residents is also bustling with activity as never before.

Trucks are taking away trees, doors and bricks and scrap dealers have descended on the town as it gets systematically dismantled with most residents having left already.

And as business activity reaches a crescendo, the river Kalimachak is slowly moving towards the town waiting to devour it with its waters -- just as a python slowly slithers towards its prey,

It is a matter of a few days before the tributary of the Narmada, on which a hugely controversial dam has been built, submerges this town in southwest Madhya Pradesh.

Kalimachak is only a kilometre away - the day heavy rains hit the area, the waters of the river will swell its banks inundating this town.

But till then, this town, which most of the 6,000 families have deserted, will keep buzzing.

Hundreds of scrap and trash dealers from neighbouring cities have descended on the city to make money so long as the waters stay away.

Most of the 22,000-odd people of the town have left carrying only necessary household items and intending to sell the rest.

"Nearly 200 scrap dealers are working day and night in Harsud as people are selling things they do not need in their day-to-day life," said Anwar Khan, who has come here from neighbouring Indore.

Khan had visited his sister in Harsud a week ago and set up shop realising that money was waiting to be made.

"Each scrap dealer has brought with him several people who are busy fetching trash from houses in barrows round-the-clock," Khan said.

Nearly all the houses have been dismantled, either totally or partially, leaving Harsud looking like a bombed out town. And house owners are busy selling old bricks, doors and windows.

"The poor and those dealing in construction material are buying from them. Poor people cannot buy fresh bricks or doors and windows. The others want to sell them at a higher price," said Amir Ali, a native of Harsud.

Truck owners have also landed in the town because people need to carry away trash or building material.

"Trucks with various goods are leaving Harsud every day," said Amar Agarwal, a truck owner who has opened an office in the town.

"With the government declaring that people are free to take the trees falling under from the submergence area, more trucks will be needed," said Agarwal.

"The sorry part is that except human beings, everything is on sale in Harsud," said Manorama Agarwal, deputy chairperson of Harsud's local council.

No comments: