This paper tries to bring forth the various aspects of the impact made by large river valley projects on the environment and society of the concerned areas and of the nation as a whole. We start by asking why we need large dams and river valley projects. Then we talk briefly about the development model followed by India post-independence where we discuss the initiation of the Narmada Valley Project (NVP). A substantial part of our discussion revolves around the pros and cons of the NVP, the protests in the valley and Narmada Bachao Andolan and a cost benefit analysis of the project. We also try to look into the issues of resettlement and rehabilitation. Lastly we talk briefly about two other river valley projects and conclude our discussion by suggesting some alternatives.
River Valley Projects
Dams and large river valley projects provide us with several large scale benefits which include irrigation support, flood control, hydro power generation, water supply for towns and cities etc. Moreover, there are some secondary benefits like creation of fishing areas, canal transportation and tourism benefits.
After independence, India under the leadership of Pt. Nehru followed the large scale application of technology & industrialization for development. Building of large river valley projects was seen as a stepping-stone towards the goals of self-sufficiency in electricity and food grain production and control of floods and famines. Narmada valley project was a part of the series of huge projects that includes Beas-Sutlej, Hirakud, Damodar and similar others.
Narmada Valley Project
Narmada is west central India’s most important river, having a catchment area of 100 000 sq. km and 40 tributaries, supporting a population of 25 million people through irrigation, fishing and forests in the states of Madhya...