We are a nation of fools. We dont know what dams are, why they are built, where they are built. We dont know what barrages are, why they are built, where they are built. And our politicians exploit our ignorance to scare us. Dams are built high up in the mountain valleys so that when a river is dammed, the depression in the valley can be filled to create a reservoir. But a dam is filled up only during the monsoons in our country when there is additional water in the river to keep it in higher flow than it normally does. Through its power and irrigation tunnels, the dam keeps the reservoir level and also regulates the river flow. Now how do we use the surplus water which has been stored? It cannot be allowed to run down the river unchecked. This is where barrages come in. Barrages are built in the planes where water is needed for irrigation. They erect a low level barrier to raise the level of river so that water can flow by gravity into the irrigation canals. Barrages too have regulating gates. But since there are no reservoirs at the barrages, the canals take water directly from rivers. It is barrages where rivers get depleted and not at the dams. The dams add water, barrages subtract. Now why doesnt our public know even these simple facts? Because of our irresponsible media, both print and electronic. A letter comes to the newspaper editor saying that such and such dam is drying up my river and would make my city a desert. The editor prints it. Another letter comes saying, without dams industrial and agricultural growth would not be possible. The Editor prints that also. No attempt is made to do some investigative reporting to find out the truth. The electronic media operates the same way. The anchor person listens to one participant, then the other, without interjecting in any intelligent manner. Obviously he doesnt have a clue to the subject at hand. Should the channel not have its own resident expert sitting in to interact with participants and tell the confused public as to what is happening here? No wonder it is called the idiot box. Is it too much to ask the media to do their homework on a subject on which depends the very existence of our country? Fools we are and fools we shall remain, with politicians to exploit us and media to confuse us. -KHURSHID ANWER, Lahore, April 8.