NARMADA has been a witness to the 25 years long struggle by the communities reared in its laps over generations in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Supported by a large number of individuals and groups across the country, their non-violent and perseverant struggle together grew into Narmada Bachao Andolan. Adivasis in the mountain ranges of Satpuda and Vindhyas, farmers, labourers, fish-workers and potters in the plains of Nimad have stayed put and challenged Sardar Sarovar (SSP), other large dams and massive canals, destroying prime agricultural land, large tracks of forests, rich horticulture and hilly as well as densely populated habitats. The saga that began in 1985 has completed 25 years of the battle which tried to question, not only large dams but lop-sided development, displacement and disparity growing with the presently imposed growth-centric paradigm of development.
Our sangharsh (struggle) through questioning displacement, assertion of land and forest rights, right to fisheries, right to food and health, livelihood security, exposure of corruption and navnirman (reconstruction) through the Jeevanshalas (life schools), micro-hydel projects, and solar projects, with the help of our support groups has continued and progressed through various phases and strategies. Over these years, we have driven away the World Bank and many other international financiers from the valley by 1993, with the help of our global supporters and compelled the governments to rehabilitate thousands of adivasis with land, yet the task is far from complete and the struggle must continue. NBA has also contributed to the building of progressive alliances, especially the National Alliance of People’s Movements.
Much water has flown through Narmada in spite of many dams being built at enormous human, social and environmental costs, but the over-estimated benefits remain unattained and the mockery of rehabilitation, replete with crores of rupees worth corruption stands exposed. The undemocratic State using the ‘divide and rule’ policy, fraudulent nexus of officials-agents, money and market continues to push the destruction, violate laws, manipulate the processes of sanctioning and monitoring, yet the Dam remains stalled at 122 mts and the people continue in the movement mode, taking up challenges through battles in the field as well as courts, from local to Supreme, and surviving the continued betrayal over two decades and more by various governments.
The struggle in SSP is now linked with the assertion of rights by adivasis affected by the Jobat dam in M.P. People in many canal-affected villages across Nimad are also questioning the unjust acquisition of irrigated lands for the canals and serious environmental impacts. The serious violations of environmental laws have been exposed by the Andolan and the MoEF’s Expert Committee has also strongly indicted the state governments for gross non-compliance. Lack of political will, however, keeps the Projects alive. The people are also not relenting, and are challenging the impacts of the various large dams in the valley and 25 years of Struggle and Reconstruction in Narmada Valley October 22nd — 23rd, 2010 Dhadgaon (Mah) and Badwani (M.P.)
the struggle for justice is only intensifying.
We, the Adivasis, farmers and others, with activists and all our supporters have to come together and look back and look forward at this juncture of completion of 25 years. It can’t be a mere celebration when the sword is still hanging, full justice is still to be achieved, large dams are still being pushed and challenged. We can’t even get over our grief since Ashish, Sanjay, Shobha and other colleagues have left us, forever. Yet, we have to take the torch forward … which was lit by them, carried by thousands and thousands of people across the country and beyond borders.
People in the Narmada valley would like to come together with you all who have joined us on the long path during last 25 years at some point during our actions, testing times, crises and victories. All those who worked with us, stood by us, spread the message and extended support are invited to the valley on the occasion of ‘Reflections from Narmada : 25 Years and Beyond’.


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