by Khurshid Anwer
We are a nation of fools. We don’t know what dams are, why they are built, where they are built. We don’t know what barrages are, why they are built, where they are built. And the politicians exploit our ignorance to scare us into buying our votes.
Dams are built high up in the mountain valleys so that when the river is dammed, the valley fills up forming a natural reservoir. The dam is filled up only during the monsoons when surplus water is available, without interfering with the normal flow of the river. The dam has power and irrigation tunnels, through which the reservoir level and the river flow is regulated. Now how to use the surplus water which has been stored. It cannot be allowed to run down the river unutilized. This is where barrages ply an important role.
Barrages are built in the planes where water is needed for irrigation. They erect a low level barrier to raise the level of the river so that water can flow by gravity into the irrigation canals. Barrages too have regulating gates. But since there are no reservoirs at the barrages, the canals take water directly from the rivers. It is at the barrages where the rivers get depleted and not at the dams. The barrages subtract and the dams add.
Why the public does not know even these simple facts is because of our irresponsible media, both print and electronic. A letter comes to the newspaper editor saying that such and such dam is drying up my river and will make my city a desert. The editor prints it. Another letter comes saying, without dams industrial and agricultural growth will not be possible. The Editor prints that also.
No attempt at investigating reporting to find out the truth. In the west newspapers vie with each other to be the first to give the correct picture to the reading public on matters of national importance.
The same with the electronic media. The anchor person listens to one participant and then the other without interjecting in any intelligent manner. Obviously he doesn’t have a clue as to the subject in hand. Should the channel not have its own resident expert sitting in to interact with the participants and unravel the complexities for the confused public. No wonder it is called the idiot box, the good that it is doing now.
Is it too much to ask the media to do their homework on a subject on which depends the very existence of the country.
Fools we are and fools we will remain, with the active help of the politicians, and thanks to the media, both print and electronic.