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ABOUT NARMADA RIVER ……………… 03
HISTORY OF THE PROJECT ……………… 04
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES ……………… 07
THE NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN ……………… 08
THE WORKS OF NBA ……………… 10
THE LEADERS OF NBA ……………… 14
THE ACHEIVEMENTS OF NBA ……………… 17
CURRENT STATUS OF NBA ……………… 18
CONCLUSION ON THE NBA ……………… 19
REFERENCES ……………… 20
ABOUT NARMADA RIVER……
Narmada River is the fifth longest river in
It begins its 1312 km (813 mile) flow to the
sea from Amarkantak village in Madhya
Pradesh, continuing its flow towards
Maharashtra, then Gujarat and eventually to
the Arabian sea.
Along the way the Narmada is augmented by
waters from 41 tributaries – 22 on its
southern side and 19 on its northern side.
Together the Narmada and its tributaries
drain 98,796 sq km (37, 542 sq miles) of
HISTORY OF THE PROJECT
The idea of building dams in the Narmada
river basin predates independent India.
In 1946, India’s Central Waterways,
Irrigation, and Navigation Commission
constituted a committee to study the
feasibility of such a project.
Fifteen years later the government of India
came out with a plan to construct a series of
dams over the Narmada river .Thus was
started a multi crore project that would
generate a big revenue for the government.
In 1978, the Indian government sought the
World Bank’s assistance to build a complex
of dams along the river as part of the
Narmada Valley Development Project
The Narmada Project included the creation
of thirty large dams, 135 medium dams, and
3,000 small dams.
The Indian government promised that the
dams would help provide potable water for
almost forty million people, irrigation for
over six million hectares of land, and
hydroelectric power for the entire region.
The government also claimed that the dams
were essential for India’s economic
development was the assertion that these
benefits, which would purportedly accrue to
millions of people living in the Narmada
Advantages of Multi-Purpose River Projects Disadvantages of Multi-Purpose River
Helps in generation of electricity. Natural course of river is affected causing
poor sediment Row.
Helps in irrigation. Excessive sedimentation at the bottom of
the reservoir, resulting in rockier stream
Helps in supply of water for domestic and
Reservoirs submerge the existing
vegetation and soil leading to its
decomposition over time.
Helps in protecting from floods. Displacement of people on large scale
Helps in recreation and inland navigation. Poor habitats for the river’s aquatic life.
Helps is fish breeding. Deforestation
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
THE NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Since the early 1980s, the Narmada Project has faced
mounting opposition from a variety of sources.
Protest groups formed in all three affected states and
included or were supported by individuals facing
displacement, students, social activists, Indian
environmental NGOs, international NGOs, and transnational
Groups in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra opposed the
dams altogether. Two such groups were the Narmada Ghati
Navnirman Samiti in Madhya Pradesh and the Narmada
Ghati Dharangrastha Samiti in Maharashtra
These two groups subsequently merged to form the
Narmada Bachao Andolan in 1989, under the leadership of
While Medha Patkar established Narmada
Bachao Andolan in 1989, the groups joined
this national coalition of environmental and
human rights activists, scientists, academics
and project affected people with a non-
NBA originally employed ‘‘Gandhian methods’’
such as peaceful marches and protests.
Rajagopal—a scholar notes that globally, the
NBA is ‘‘regarded as one of the signature
public contestations of the twentieth
century that redefined the terms of
development, democracy and accountability.’’
THE WORKS OF NBA
The success of the NBA campaign resulted
from its innovative strategies of resistance
that operated simultaneously at the
grassroots, national, and international level.
NBA focused towards the stoppage of the
Sardar Sarovar Dam, Medha Patkar using
the right to fasting, undertook a 22-day
fast in June 1991 that almost took her life.
She undertook a similar fast in 1993 and
resisted evacuation from the dam site.
In 1994, the Narmada Bachao Andolan
office was attacked reportedly by a couple
of political parties, and Patkar and other
activists were physically assaulted and
Medha Patkar and Baba Amte together let a series of protests, some of which failed.
In September 1989, Amte led a 60,000-person anti-dam NBA rally in Harsud - a town of
20,000 people in Madhya Pradesh that faced submersion.
In May 1990, a massive NBA five-daydharna (sit-in) at then-Prime Minister V. P. Singh’s
residence in New Delhi forced the Prime Minister to agree to ‘‘reconsider’’ the project.
In December 1990, Amte, along with 5,000 protestors, began the Narmada Jan Vikas
Sangharsh Yatra marching over a hundred kilometres.
The government reacted by deploying the Gujarati police force and by bussing in
thousands of government supported pro-dam demonstrators from urban centers in
Following the government’s announcement that rising waters from the dam would begin to
submerge villages, domestic protest intensified and with it the resulting backlash from
On January 5, 1991, Amte began a ‘‘dharna [sit-in] unto death.’’
Today it has became a 31 years long movement which started with the view to work
towards and protect the environment as well as the shelter for the lakhs of peoples living
at the banks of River Narmada led under the leadership of Socialists like Medha Patkar
and Baba Amte.
THE LEADERS OF NBA
The movement was initiated by Medha Patkar.
She moved to live among the tribals of narmada
valley in the mid – 1980’s.
She faced repression and has been arrested several
She undertook many satyagrahas and long fasts.
She declared that NBA would accept no package
since NBA was opposed to obstructing the “natural”
flow of rivers.
In 1990, Baba Amte left Anandvan to join Medha
Patkar’s Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Words from Baba Amte
“I am leaving to live along the Narmada…… Narmada
will linger on the lips of the nation as a symbol of
all struggles against social injustice.”
1. United Nations Human Rights Prize
2. Ramon Megasessey Award (1985)
3. Templeton Prize (1990)
4. Gandhi Peace Prize
On Friday, April 14, 2006, Aamir Khan
participated in hunger strike since March
29 put by the NBA committee, after the
government’s decision to raise the height
of the Narmada Dam.
Words from Aamir Khan
“As a concerned Indian citizen, I have
come here to lend my support to these
poor Adivasis who will lose their land and
will be displaced from the homes if the
height of the dam is raised.”
He gave NBA movement a good media
coverage and voiced his opinions freely
ACHEIVEMENTS OF NBA
The NBA has attracted an international network of support.
They have gain some success in obtaining concession for the people who have been
affected by already built dam on Narmada river.
They achieved their early successes through being able to forge transnational
linkages and to petition international organizations such as the World Bank from
Sardar Sarovar in 1993.
The NBA was able to halt of the construction of Sardar Sarovar Dam in 1994-99
Withdrawal of foreign investors from Maheshwar dam 1999-2001
The NBA has helped establishing a network of activists across the country – The
National Alliance Of People’s Movement.
CURRENT STATUS OF NBA
In October 2000 the Supreme Court gave a judgment approving the construction of
the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
The court decided that the height of the dam be raised to 90 m. This height is much
higher than the 88 m which anti-dam activists demanded, but it is definitely lower
than the proposed height of 130 m.
After the Supreme Court judgment, the Gujarat Government has taken up the
construction of the dam.
As the World Bank withdrew its financing in 1993 the project is now largely financed
by the state governments and market borrowings.
Now the project is expected to be fully completed by 2025.
CONCLUSION ON THE NBA
According to one NBA partner, the campaign against the construction of dams on the
Narmada According to one NBA partner, the campaign against the construction of dams
on the Narmada River is ‘‘symbolic of a global struggle for social and environmental
justice,’’ while the NBA itself is a ‘‘symbol of hope for people’s movements all over the
world that are fighting for just, equitable, and participatory development.’’ Though the
NBA has yet to achieve the goals for which it has so tirelessly fought, its victories
against the mammoth odds have earned it the reputation of being one of the most
dynamic social movements of our time and one that the government continues to expend
considerable resources to fight against. As noted by Medha Patkar upon her release
from jail on August 6, 2007: ‘‘It’s obvious that the Government of Madhya Pradesh is all
out to kill our right to land and also our right to agitate.’’