"Tehri was such a beautiful region; everything was lost when it sank under the waters of the dam. I still remember the Ghanta Ghar there, the palace, Raani ka Baag. And the mangoes from the baag! They were just heavenly. Then there was the pahadi palak, the pahadi daals, singhori, shalgam. Aha! What delicious vegetables and fruits! I remember the pahadi folk used to come down from higher up in the mountains, from across the river, with their cloth bundles filled with all this fresh produce, and we used to literally pounce on it. All of this scrumptious fare cost a pittance. Even now we try to get as much local food as possible. The imposters you get in the markets here cannot match the produce grown without any artificial fertilisers.
When the dam was being constructed, we were supposed to be given a certain amount as compensation because we had to relocate. I can’t forget the agitations we conducted for almost two-and-a-half years to get the compensation amount raised. Fifty of us women would arrive at the protest site in the morning and sit there till sunset. In the evening, we walked right up to the dam, chanting slogans. I feel like I’ve spent most of my years worrying and fighting. We had to fight long to get our dues, and it wasn’t an easy struggle. But one thing was clear - I wasn’t going to give up till we got what was owed to us!
I could see our file lying on the table. The delay was simply because our system works in a certain way - chai-paani or jugaad. I kept going back but did not give into the two-faced system. It had already made a lot off our distress. Finally, we managed to procure our compensation - almost double of what was originally on the table. Now, I have a home and my four children are well off.
We have suffered a lot. Our sacrifices have been instrumental in bringing India’s tallest dam to life. I am very proud of it "