BMIC headed the Narmada way?

As I read about the protests farmers have started against BMIC project – their complaint: they have lost their land and have not been compensated yet – it is beginning to sound similar to the controversies around Sardar Sarovar Dam project.

From Deccan Herald June 12 again:

DH - BMIC Protest

Both are very large size infrastructure projects. Both have just dragged on for long. And we hear of bungling in displacement and compensation time and again.

Perhaps there are lessons here for all to not ignore the aspirations of rural India – however old fashioned those may sound to the intelligentsia – when executing large infrastructure projects outside of big cities.

Lesson number two is this. Since these large projects touch the proverbial farmers and common man, these attract political interests. Any project running for more than 5 years is likely to deal with political parties with exactly opposite interests and stands. Call it the "democratic cost" of the project, and learn to deal with it.

So the firms executing large infrastructure projects ought to invest in two things upfront. Transparency, because you may not be able to get your way through for 5-10 years by just bribing around. And public relationship exercise at all levels. Or else, you will go the Narmada and BMIC way.

Thankfully, BIAL (the group building the new airport) may not run into these issues. One, because no one opposes the project. Two, all the land has been acquired without any controversies (so far!).

Watch the Bangalore Metro project next. I expect trouble. Shopkeepers will protest against the route when its frozen (BJP). Monorail advocates will ask to cut the Metro budget (JD-S), because it will be up and visible to everyone sooner than Metro.

PS: I love Indian democracy. Its like the game of cricket, that drags, and isn't over till the last ball is bowled!

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