Export Credit

World Dam commission seeks to bridge opposing interests

Wall Street Journal
March 19, 1998

Under cover of darkness, 10,000 villagers dodged police roadblocks and invaded a dam under construction on the Narmada River in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. (Excerpt)

The dam would flood out thousands of families and their farmlands. The protesters occupied the site for 20 days and left only after a state official in January suspended construction. The dispute over a dam in India isn’t an isolated case. In India’s Narmada region, where scores of dams are planned, protests have persisted for a decade. In Malaysia, the government last year was forced by financial problems to abandon a $5 billion dam project that would have flooded an area larger than Singapore; before the country’s financial woes overwhelmed the venture, the government had insisted on proceeding with the trophy project despite international criticism holding that the dam was uneconomical and would hurt Borneans. International aid organizations, once the prime benefactors of big dams, have cut back their commitments out of concern about the downside. One loser: China’s huge Three Gorges Dam, which now relies heavily on domestic funding.

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