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Drowned Out
Zaid Hassan, 3 Jan 04


Spanner Films have produced an outstanding documentary, Drowned Out, which charts the story of an adivasi (indigenous) family whose home was due to be flooded by the rising waters of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, one a series of megadams being built along the Narmada River in India.

The brain-child of Franny Armstrong the story of how the film was produced is an amazing one in it's own right. She wrote it up for The Guardian in a piece called "The truth will out".

The documentary is instructive in that it tells us how modern democracy, at least in India, which boasts of being the world's largest democracy, functions. The film dives into the deep-end by trying to document the complexity of development and graphically illustrates many of the paradoxes that are inherent within the paradigm as it's practiced today.

One of the largest dam construction exercises in the world, the Narmada project has piled up a number of distinctions, chief being the first mega-project that the World Bank pulled out of after an independent environmental review team concluded that the most basic assessments had not been completed. After the Bank pulled out the Indian government, unfazed, raised the $200m needed themselves and continued building and the activists continue fighting.

As writer and activist Arundhati Roy puts it, "This is the heart of politics, this is the story of modern India."

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Good grab, Zaid: I really want to see this.

The Narmada projects are pretty close to a textbook case of what *not* to do.

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 3 Jan 04

Alex, you're right about how this is a good example of how dam project shouldn't be done - and a good example of how great documentaries can be produced and the medium used for creating change.

We should arrange a 'worldchanging' screening in SF :-)

Posted by: Zaid on 4 Jan 04

I would like to buy the video but am having difficulty doing this can you help ? Also I would like to help Luharia and bulgi Sonkariya and the villages of Jalsindhi- How can I help - perhaps contacting the Indian Govt and demanding recognition of their title to the land and demanding that they be resettled on fertile land ! Is this possible - it is now March 04 what has happened to them ?

Posted by: maggie verco on 9 Mar 04



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