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What is Narmada bachao andolan?

Last updated date: 16th Jun 2024
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Hint: River Narmada flows across three states – Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. This is related to a project on river Narmada.

Complete Answer:
A project named “Sardar Sarovar Project” was launched in early ’eighties in the Narmada valley of central India. The project consisted of 30 big dams, 135 medium sized dams and around 3,000 small dams to be built on the river Narmada and its tributaries. Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat and the Narmada Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh were two of the most important and biggest, multi-purpose dams scheduled under the project.

Sardar Sarovar Project is a multipurpose large-scale dam on the river whose main aim was to provide benefit to huge areas of Gujarat and the three adjacent states. These benefits were – availability of drinking water and irrigation water, generation of electricity and increase in agricultural production. So many other secondary benefits like effective control of flood and drought in the region were related to the success of this dam. Apart from these benefits some unavoidable situations were also connected with the project.

Approximately 245 villages from these States were expected to get immersed in the process of construction of the dam. Around two and a half lakh people from these villages were expected to require relocation. Along with the displacement of a huge number of people the project also caused immense ecological damage through the inundation of the forests that are prime habitats to a number of rare species. Issues of resettlement and proper rehabilitation of the project-affected people were first raised by local activist groups.

Narmada Bachao Aandolan which opposed the construction of a multi-purpose dam to save river Narmada was a collective local movement driven by native tribes, farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists. The leading spokespersons of Narmada Bachao Andolan are Medha Patkar and Baba Amte. The movement argued that the social costs of any developmental project must be calculated and analysed. The social costs in this project included forced relocation of the project-affected people, huge loss of their means of livelihood and culture and diminution of the ecological resources.

Primarily the movement demanded proper rehabilitation of the persons who were directly or indirectly affected by the project. The NBA insisted that local societies must have an effective control over natural resources like water, land and forests.

Note: By the end of the nineties, many local groups emerged and the movement became part of a larger association of people’s movement that are involved in struggles for similar disputes in different parts of the country.