As one of the few bureaucrats in the Water Resources Ministry, who not only handled but contributed significantly as the Secretary, his clear vision on numerous issues be it on the costs – benefits of large scale irrigation projects, the implications of river-linking, the environmental impacts of large projects etc, with a clear scientific as well as rights-based approach was a valuable contribution.
His remarkable openness to engage with the issues raised from the ground, his profound understanding of water woes across the spectrum of legal, social and political dynamics, his significant role in the process of evolution of international treaties on water law, his pertinent analysis, hard-hitting questions in a soft-spoken manner, were few of the many strengths of Ramawamyji.
His unique strength also lied in the fact that he never came across as “anti-establishment”, although he challenged the establishment at every stage, with his convincing analysis and feisty factual knowledge. Until his last breath, he has been writing articles, books and reviews, a treasure for one and all.
At Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar says they still remember how, as a key official in the Water Ministry, way back in 1993, he patiently sat through the proceedings of the 5-Member Review Committee and worked as the Committee’s backbone, painstakingly trying to understand and later convince himself and other members of the costs and benefits of the SSP. The Report of the 5-Member Group is nothing short of a classic.
“We can never forget how Iyer ji stayed for the entire 3-days in the Narmada valley with his family, during the mega events marking the 25 years of the struggle, interacting and expressing solidarity with the tribals and farmers in the hills and plains.”, Medha Patkar added as per a release.
As a petitioner before the Supreme Court in the Narmada petition, filed along with other eminent citizens such as Prof. Upendra Baxi, Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, BD Sharma, etc, he questioned the unconstitutionally of displacement by offer of meagre cash compensation to the Sardar Sarovar oustees.