In the name of the Narmada

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Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

AUTHORESS ROYINA GREWAL'S travelogue, Sacred Virgin, is raking in dazzling reviews. The fact that she travelled along the Narmada when it was at the heart of an international environmental controversy has added to the interest the book has generated. Grewal's reason for writing the book, however, was almost archival. She wanted "to document the river and its environs before they got disturbed beyond recognition by the forces of change".

To facilitate this process, she interacted with both the pro-dam and the anti-dam groups, and worked along with Medha Patkar and her Organisation, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, in the early phase of the protests. But later, "I was in the bad books of both groups, because I am of the opinion that a compro -mise should be arrived at," says Grewal. According to her, the way to break the stalemate is simplicity itself: reduce the height of the dam and concentrate on the rehabilitation of the people.

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