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NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN

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Published by Jananee Rajagopalan

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Published by: Jananee Rajagopalan on Jun 16, 2011
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02/05/2014

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INTRODUCTION
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)
is a non-governmental organization (NGO) thatmobilized tribal people, adivasis, farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists againstthe Sardar Sarovar Dam being built across the Narmada River, Gujarat, India.Their mode of campaign includes hunger strikes and garnering support from noted film andart personalities. Narmada Bachao Andolan, together with its leading spokespersons MedhaPatkar and Baba Amte were the 1991recipient of the Right Livelihood Award.
MEDHA PATKAR 
Medha Patkar
was born in Mumbai, India to Indu and Vasant Khanolkar, a trade unionleader and freedom fighter. She was raised by politically and socially active parents. Her father actively fought in the Indian Independence Movement. Her mother was a member of Swadar, anorganization setup to help and assist women suffering difficult circumstances arising out of financial, educational, and health related problems. Her parents' activism played a role in shapingher philosophical views. She did her 
M.A. in Social Work from Tata Institute of SocialSciences (TISS).
 
Medha Patkar is one of the recipients of Right Livelihood Awardfor the year 1991. Shereceived the 1999 M.A.Thomas National Human Rights Award fromVigil India Movement. Shehas also received numerous other awards, including theDeena Nath Mangeshkar  Award,Mahatma Phule Award,Goldman Environment Prize,Green Ribbon Awardfor Best International Political Campaigner byBBC, and theHuman Rights Defender's  AwardfromAmnesty International.She was also a Commissioner to theWorld Commission on  Dams.
BABA AMTE
 
 
Murlidhar Devidas Amte
, popularly known as
Baba Amte
was anIndiansocial worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of  poor people suffering fromleprosy.Amte was born to Devidas and Laxmibai Amte in the town of HinganghatinWardha  Districtof Maharashtra. The family was a wealthy jagirdar Brahminfamily. His father was also a British official with responsibilities for district administration and revenue collection.In 1990, Amte left Anandwan for a while to live along the Narmada River and joinMedha  Patkar'sNarmada Bachao Andolan("Save Narmada" Movement), which fought against both unjust displacement of local inhabitants and damage to the environment on account of theconstruction of theSardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river 
.
SARDAR SAROVAR DAM
 The
Narmada Dam Project
is a largehydraulic engineeringproject involving theconstruction of a series of largeirrigationandhydroelectricmulti-purposedamson the Narmada  River inIndia. The project was first conceived of in the 1940s by the country's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The project only took form in 1979 as part of a development schemeto increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity.Of the thirty large dams planned on river Narmada, Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) is the largeststructure to be built. It has a proposed final height of 136.5 m (448 ft). The project will irrigatemore than 18,000 km
2
(6,900 sq mi), most of it in drought prone areas of Kutch and Saurashtra.
 
Critics maintain that its negative environmental impacts outweigh its benefits. It has createddiscord between its government planners and the citizens group Narmada Bachao Andolan.The Experts' Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) made a clear finding of the egregious failure of the government machinery on virtually all aspects of the planning and implementation of environmental safeguards of the project and recommended thatno further reservoir filling be done until failures of compliance on the various environmental parameters have been fully remedied.
BACKGROUND
Post-1947, investigations were carried out to evaluate mechanisms in utilizing water fromthe Narmada river , which flows into theArabian Seaafter passing through the states of Madhya  Pradesh,GujaratandMaharashtra.Due to inter-state differences in implementing schemes and sharing of water, the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal was constituted by theGovernment of  Indiaon October 6, 1969 to adjudicate over the water disputes. This Tribunal investigated thematters referred to it and responded after more than 10 years. On December 12, 1979, thedecision as given by the Tribunal, with all the parties at dispute binding to it, was released by theIndian Government.As per the Tribunal's decision, 30 major, 135 medium, and 3000 small dams, were grantedapproval for construction including raising the height of theSardar Sarovar dam.In 1985, after hearing about the Sardar Sarovar dam, Medha Patkar and her colleagues visitedthe project site and noticed the project work being shelved due to an order by theMinistry of  Environment and Forests, Government of India. The reasons for this were 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 noinformation, but for the offer for rehabilitation.Due to this, the villagers had many questions right from why their permission was not takento whether a good assessment on the ensuing destruction was taken. Furthermore, the officialsrelated to the project had no answers to their questions. WhileWorld Bank , the financing agencyfor 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 notsanctioned 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.

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