Sardar Sarovar Dam

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  • Topic: Narmada Bachao Andolan, Narmada River, Madhya Pradesh
  • Pages : 5 (1495 words )
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  • Published : February 28, 2013
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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. 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".

Formation
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.

Aftermath

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...
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