Sardar Sarovar Dam Essay

In 1985, after hearing about the Sardar Sarovar dam, Medha Patkar and her colleagues visited the project site and noticed the project work being shelved due to an order by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. The reasons for this was cited as “non-fulfillment of basic environmental conditions and the lack of completion of crucial studies and plans”. What she noticed was that the people who were going to be affected were given no information, but for the offer for rehabilitation.

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Due to this, the villagers had many questions right from why their permission was not taken to whether a good assessment on the ensuing destruction was taken. Furthermore, the officials related to the project had no answers to their questions. While World Bank, the financing agency for this project, came into the picture, Patkar approached the Ministry of Environment to seek clarifications. She realized, after seeking answers from the ministry, that the project was not sanctioned at all, and wondered as to how funds were even sanctioned by the World Bank.

After several studies, they realized that the officials had overlooked the post-project problems.

Through Patkar’s channel of communication between the government and the residents, she provided critiques to the project authorities and the governments involved. At the same time, her group realized that all those displaced were only given compensation for the immediate standing crop and not for displacement and rehabilitation.

As Patkar remained immersed in the Narmada struggle, she chose to quit her Ph. D. studies and focus entirely on the Narmada activity. Thereafter, she organized a 36-day long, solidarity march among the neighboring states of the Narmada valley from Madhya Pradesh to the Sardar Sarovar dam site. She said that the march was “a path symbolizing the long path of struggle (both immediate and long-term) that [they] really had”.This march was resisted by the police, who according to Patkar were “caning the marchers and arresting them and tearing the clothes off women activists”.


There were groups such as Gujarat-based Arch-Vahini (Action Research in Community Health and Development) and Narmada Asargrastha Samiti (Committee for people affected by the Narmada dam), Madhya Pradesh-based Narmada Ghati Nav Nirman Samiti (Committee for a new life in the Narmada Valley) and Maharashtra-based Narmada Dharangrastha Samiti (Committee for Narmada dam-affected people) who either believed in the need for fair rehabilitation plans for the people or who vehemently opposed dam construction despite a resettlement policy.

While Patkar established Narmada Bachao Andolan in 1989, all these groups joined this national coalition of environmental and human rights activists, scientists, academics and project-affected people with a non-violent approach.


Medha Patkar (right) and other NBA activists demonstrate in front of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s residence for replacement and rehabilitation of all those affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam.Within the focus of Narmada Bachao Andolan towards the stoppage of the Sardar Sarovar dam, she advised addition of World Bank to their propaganda. Using the right to fasting, she undertook a 22 day fast that almost took her life. In 1991, her action brought led to an unprecedented independent review by the World Bank. The Morse Commission, appointed in June 1991 at the recommendation of The World Bank President Barber Coinable, conducted its first independent review of a World Bank project.

This independent review stated that “performance under these projects has fallen short of what is called for under Bank policies and guidelines and the policies of the Government of India.” This resulted in the Indian Government pulling out of its loan agreement with the World Bank. In response, Patkar said “It is very clear and obvious that they used this as a face-saving device”, suggesting that if this were not to happen, the World Bank would eventually would have withdrawn the loan. The World Bank’s participation in these projects was eventually cancelled in 1995.

She further undertook a similar fast in 1993 and resisted evacuation from the dam site.In 1994, the Bachao Andolan office was attacked reportedly by a couple of political parties, where Patkar and other activists were physically assaulted and verbally abused. In protest, a few NBA activists and she began a fast and 20 days later, they were arrested and forcibly fed intravenously. Supreme Court’s decision

Patkar led Narmada Bachao Andolan had filed a written petition with the Supreme Court of India [the nation’s apex court] seeking stoppage of construction on the Sardar Sarovar dam. The court initially ruled the decision in the Andolan’s favor thereby effecting an immediate stoppage of work at the dam and directing the concerned states to first complete the rehabilitation and replacement process.

The Supreme Court also deliberated on this issue further for several years but finally upheld the Tribunal Award and allowed the construction to proceed, subject to conditions. The court introduced a mechanism to monitor the progress of resettlement pari passu with the raising of the height of the dam through the Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRA) in each of the party states.

The court’s decision referred in this document, given in the year 2000 after seven years of deliberations, has paved the way for completing the project to attain full envisaged benefits. The court’s final line of the order states, “Every endeavour shall be made to see that the project is completed as expeditiously as possible”.

Subsequent to the court’s verdict, Press Information Bureau (PIB) featured an article which states that:

“The Narmada Bachao Andolan has rendered a yeoman`s service to the country by creating a high-level of awareness about the environmental and rehabilitation and relief aspects of Sardar Sarovar and other projects on the Narmada. But, after the court verdict it is incumbent on it to adopt a new role. Instead of `damning the dam` any longer, it could assume the role of vigilant observer to see that the resettlement work is as humane and painless as possible and that the environmental aspects are taken due care of”. [edit] People involved

Amongst the major celebrities who have shown their support for Narmada Bachao Andolan are Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy[15] and Aamir Khan.[16].1994, saw the launch of Narmada:A valley Rises, by filmmaker Ali Kazimi.This film documents the five week long Sangharsh Yatra of 1991. The film went on to win several awards and is considered by many to be a classic film on the issue. In 1996, veteran documentary film maker, Anand Patwardhan, made an award-winning documentary on this issue, titled: ‘A Narmada Diary’.

[edit] Criticism

The Narmada dam’s benefits include provision drinking water, power generation and irrigation facilities. However, the campaign led by the NBA activists has held up the project’s completion, and the NBA supporters have indulged in physical attacks on local people who accepted compensation for moving.

Dhamma Chakra Stupa, also known as Diksha Bhumi, is an important religious Buddhist monument located at Nagpur. It is at this place in 1956 Dr B R Ambedkar initiated the conversion of thousands of Dalit people to Buddhism. This day is celebrated as Ashok Vijaya Dashmi and on this day thousands of followers of Dr Ambedkar and Buddism join this place to offer floral tributes.

The stupa is worth seeing due to its architectural beauty. It can accommodate more than 5,000 people. The stupa is made out of Dhaulpur sandstones, marbles and granites. The attractive dome has a height of 120 feet.

Salal Hydroelectric Project Stage-I of 345 MW (115X3) and Stage-II of 345 MW (115X3) are constructed on river Chenab in the state of J&K. The project was conceived in the year 1920. The investigations on the project were started in the year 1961 by the Govt. of J&K and construction was started in 1970 by Central Hydroelectric Project Control Board under Ministry of Irrigation and Power, Govt. of India. In 1978 construction of the projects was entrusted to NHPC on agency basis. After completion of project, it was handed over to NHPC on ownership basis for operation and Maintenance.Stage-I of the project was commissioned in 1987.

First unit of Stage-II of the project was commissioned in 1993, second in 1994 and third in 1995. At the peak of construction, about 12,000 persons including contractors worked around the clock to complete the project from 1970s to till date under proper guidance and maintaince of India most successful company NHPC (NATIONAL HYDROELECTRIC POWER CORPORATION).

The project was taken by HCC and various contractors. Various contractors spend there life in the construction of salal project (Jyotipuram).Among them the famous names are MR SURINDER GANDOTRA (basically from Jammu who stayed there for about 20 years and completed projects worth in crores given by NHPC till 1993 and later shift to construction of colonies and other work for SEWA HYDEL PROJECT at Bani in district Kathua). Other contractors have also contributed a lot to salal project.

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