In 1985, Narmada bachao andolan became an Indian social ,and environmental movement. Narmada Bachao Andolan is the most powerful mass movement, started in 1985, against the construction of huge dam on the Narmada river. Narmada is the India’s largest west flowing river, which supports a large variety of people with distinguished culture and tradition ranging from the indigenous (tribal) people inhabited in the jungles here to the large number of rural population. The proposed Sardar Sarovar Dam and Narmada Sagar will displace more than 250,000 people. Narmada bachao andolan was led by native tribals, farmers environmentalists and Human Rights activist. Narmada bachao andolan was against and number of large Dam projects across the river Narmada, which to the states of Gujarat Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The big fight is over the resettlement or the rehabilitation of these people. The two proposals are already under construction, supported by US$550 million loan by the World Bank. There are plans to build over 3000 big and small dams along the river. This protest, to express the views against a large number of dams being contrasted near Narmada river, brought a large number of adivasis, farmers, environmentalists, and human rights activists together. The movement involved prominent celebrities and people went on hunger strikes to show their support for the cause. The decision is still pending, though 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. Later the court allowed the construction to proceed.
It is a multi crore project that will generate a big revenue for the government. The Narmada Valley Development plan is the the most promised and most challenging plan in the history of India. The proponents are of the view that it will produce 1450 MW of electricity and pure drinking water to 40 million people covering thousand of villages and towns. Some of the dams have been already been completed such as Tawa and Bargi Dams. But the opponents says that this hydro project will devastate human lives and bio diversity by destroying thousand of acres of forests and agricultural land. On the other hand it will overall deprive thousands of people of their livelihood. They believe that the water and energy could be provided to the people through alternative technological means that would be ecologically beneficial.
Medha Patkar and Baba Amte together let a series of protests, some of which failed while the others achieved success. 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 (Narmada people’s progress struggle march), marching over a hundred kilometers from Amte’s headquarters near Barwani in Madhya Pradesh to Ferkuva on the Madhya Pradesh–Gujarat border. The government reacted by deploying the Gujarati police force and by bussing in thousands of governmentsupported pro-dam demonstrators from urban centers in Gujarat. 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 the state. On January 5, 1991, Amte began a ‘‘dharna [sit-in] unto death.’’
The most popular slogans of the NBA were Vikas Chahiye, vinash nahin! (‘‘We want development, not destruction’’) and Koi nahi hatega, bandh nahi banega! (‘‘No one will move, the dam will not be built’’).Led by one of the prominent leader Medha Patkar, it has now been turned into the International protest, gaining support from NGO’S all around the globe. Protestors are agitating the issue through the mass media, hunger strikes, massive marches, rallies and the through the on screen of several documentary films. Although they have been protesting peacefully, but they been harassed, arrested and beaten up by the police several times. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has been pressurizing the world bank to withdraw its loan from the project through media .The strong protests throughout the country not only made impact on the local people but has also influenced the several famous celebrities like film star Aamir Khan , who has made open efforts to support Narmada Bachao Andolan. He said he only want that those who have been rendered homeless should be given a roof. He pleaded to the common people to take part in the moment and come up with the best possible solutions. .
In october 2010 Supreme Court approved construction in decided that the height of the Dam to be raised 90m. This is much higher than 88m which anti Dam activist demanded but it is definitely lower than the proposed height of 130 m. As the World Bank withdrew its financing in 1933 the project is now largely financed by the state governments and market borrowings ,now the project is expected to be fully completed by 2025.
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