Haritima : The Environmental Society Of Hansraj College

Save the Narmada Movement: “Narmada Bachao Andolan”

Narmada BachaoAndolanor in short, NBA includes series of moments which primarily aimed at saving the Narmada river and people around it from the dam projects, proposed to be built on the river.Its leading spokesperson includes Medha Patkar and Baba Amte along with many farmers, tribal representatives, environmental activists, and other people who lived near river Narmada.

River Narmada

Narmada river is India’s Largest westward flowing river. The river Narmada flows through the state ofMadhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Like other rivers, Narmada too supports surrounding life forms. People from different societies and cultures are nourished by river Narmada. Many tribes, inhabitants of Jungles are majority dependent on river Narmada.

Causes of Narmada BachaoAndolan

  1. Large scale of Dam construction:- Proposed plan on river Narmada includes the construction of many big and small dams which was the main reason to oppose the activities.
  2. Ecological concerns:-Many Environmentalists were conscious regarding the environmental impact of the several proposed projects on Narmada. They reported it as a threat to natural ecology in the Narmada basin.
  3. Improper and delayed rehabilitation program:- Construction activities regarding the proposed plan required space around Narmada river bank hence causing problems to nearby settlers and leading to their displacement. Govt scheme of rehabilitation for them was improperly structured and delayed causing a threat to their livelihood.
  4. Deficit of trust:- Local and native people have distrust in local politicians regarding the advantages of Dam construction and hence they started opposing it

Moment at Glance

After the Independence of India in 1947, Pt. Nehru suggested for construction of dams on river bodies including Narmada to seize extra water it shed into Arabian Sea. A plan was proposed, to construct 300+ big and small dams on Narmada. Infact, two of India’s biggest dams namely, Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada Sagar Dam have been constructed on the river Narmada only. This construction activity led to the displacement of local people. They demanded a proper rehabilitation scheme, but the government scheme was not proper and delayed. Their lifestyle was threatened and hence they protested in mass participation. In 1985, MedhaPatkar started this moment by aiming to provide justice to displaced people.The major faces that invoiced themselves in the support of Narmada Bachao Andolan, include Medha Patkar, Baba Amte, Nitish Kumar, Amir Khan, and many other activists. This movement involved mass siting, strikes, protests, rallies, hunger strikes and even strike till death.

Role of World Bank

The world bank sanctioned a loan for the construction of the Dams (specifically Sardar Sarovar Dam). On uprising protest, World Bank too formed a committee to scrutinize the construction process and its impacts. It however supported the construction activity of Dam, as it has many points in favor of criticism.

MedhaPatkarprotested on Banks grants in Washington, 1989. After a series of protests and re-allocation of scrutinizing committees, World Bank played its role. However govt. of India canceled the sanctioned loans in 1993.

Status of NBA and Conclusion

In October 2000, Supreme Court of India rules out in the favour of the construction of Sardar Sarovar Dam and hence, the state government started its construction activity. As loan sanctioning from World Bank was canceled, the state government with the aid of central has to bear the expense.

NBA saw mass participation of people along with supported from all over the world. It gained public attention on a wider scale. NBA is yet to achieve its objective but NBA had brought people together in unity for standing for their rights.

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