NBA has had a vision of Development with sustainability & justice. This supports a paradigm to be framed through democratic process of planning with minimized destruction natural resources & human habitats. Such development is possible with decentralized displacement or deprivation utilization & appropriate unit for planning as also appropriate technology. Land, water, forest, minerals, fish & aquatic wealth as well as hills mountains to river …. form an eco-system as in a river valley too. Micro to macro unit with the resources need to be the bases, following the principle of subsidiarity.
NBA sees development induced displacement (from houses, farms, culture & nature) as not merely sacrifice’ but investment which is invaluable & indispensable. Natural resources are the real-life support & not just capital. Natural resource-based communities such as is of adivasis, farmers & others have been generations old real conservators of the resource matrix, even while utilizing those. It is possible due to their simple & self-reliant lifestyle & equitable sharing within social and geographical community.

NBA desires to bring socio-economic & ecological climate change to ensure equity, justice, secularism & democratic socialism through nonviolent actions as ‘Satyagrahas.’ It wishes to attain local, national, to global unity beyond all kinds of discrimination – based on caste, creed, religion, linguistic & gender. It strives not for, but with rural & urban poor who are rich in natural and human resources with skills, to ensure protection of their constitutional rights including right to life with shelter, livelihood, food, water, education, health, sanitation & power. It has been active through nonviolent mass struggle & reconstruction, both.


The process to form an organization was initiated by Medha Patkar & a few youngsters who joined in 1985, reaching out to the most interior adivasi communities who were forest dwellers & farmers residing in the Satpudas & Narmada valley since generations. The team organized them, including adivasis
from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh & later from Gujarat. Too, living in the Vindhya & Satpuda ranges. It helped them raise their own questions related to the BIG DAM – Sardar Sarovar & its impacts and awakened them about their right to know, right to land, water, forest & all resources in the eco-system they belonged to. With activists as catalysts, the adivasis represented themselves at various levels, before the bureaucrats, technocrats & politicians as well as the civil society at large. The villagers in the plains falling in the Sardar Sarovar submergence zone also got organized with farmers, fish workers & all natural & human resources-based communities. It was with the supporters who helped to gather information about the giant project of Sardar Sarovar, its varied impacts to the status of planning for mitigation, compensation & rehabilitation.
It became obvious that all the displaced persons are not counted; landless or propertyless are excluded, and resettlement is not rehabilitation that has to be with alternative source of livelihood & not only shelter! NBA’s mission is to achieve not only new life but also life with a better standard of living. Those who are compelled to give away & invest their generations old resources for any development project, they should not be treated as ‘oustees’ but as ‘partners’ and ‘stakeholders’ to be involved in planning, execution & evaluation – all stages.
NBA has been active in getting every affected person, including the landless, fully & fairly rehabilitated & has achieved even women’s rights as equivalent to the men’s. Every community, shopkeepers’, potters’, fish workers’ rights to rehabilitation with State support to promote their traditional occupation, is ecognized through Government orders after years long struggle. All this has led to rehabilitation of thousands (about 50,000) of Sardar Sarovar PAFs over 38 years, in 3 states, as against those in other dams in the Narmada Valley & Development projects across India too.

However, a few thousand PAFs remain to be rehabilitated & new challenges are also taken up by NBA. The game of numbers in which the number of PAFs kept on changing was such that right at the beginning, based on presentations by the state governments, without baseline surveys, the numbers of ‘to be affected’ were reported as 6147 in Madhya Pradesh, 456 for Maharashtra and not reported for Gujarat. The data then got proved to be baseless & it increased to be 13,768 for 3 states in 1991, 40,727 in 1998 and 46,823 in 2015!
The figures reported as data in the NCA’s annual reports shockingly differ over the years. After having reported that 19,038 PAFs were resettled in Madhya Pradesh, in the year 2015, in 2017 it came down to 18,063! How was this possible? How much harassment did the families face when many many had to
strive and struggle to prove their status & entitlements? The worst sufferers were from the hills but also those belonging to the dalit, Adivasi & other landless communities who were traditionally not so equipped with the documents, as mostly paperless & illiterate too!! There are still hundreds who
are awaiting to get orders from the authorities, including Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRA), with retired judges as honourable members. Not less than 600 are applications pending before the GRA, Madhya Pradesh with 3 instead of 5 (as directed by the Supreme Court in 2015 itself) members as in 2024. The mission to get the rights accepted are also the orders executed which takes years, testing the patience, perseverance & commitment of not only those families, but also NBA.

Submergence without rehabilitation is the worst happening that is in violation of the NWDTA, the Act, which has stipulated ‘In no event can anyone’s property be submerged temporarily or permanently, without full or fair rehabilitation, with compensation and all arrangements at the Resettlement and Rehabilitation site with civic amenities.’ This has been happening since 1993-94 in the mountainous region in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh while the Dam construction got stayed for 4 years by the Honorable Apex Court. This happened in 1995 after 26 days fast by NBA in Bhopal & all party resolution was passed in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on December 16, 1994.

The missionary zeal and assertion of rights with appreciable united strength of thousands exhibited by the adivasis, farmers, labourers, through various forms of ‘Satyagraha’ continued and led to form the response from the governments with a Committee of 3 Union Ministers sent to the Valley in 2006, various orders passed since 1990s in Maharashtra and Gujarat and till 2017, in Madhya Pradesh. There were also incidents of firing causing death of Rahimal Vasare in Maharashtra in 90’s, arrents and jail faced in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh which too were countered with non-violence and no doubt, motivated the civil society, receiving continuous support of peoples’ organizations, activists, as well as intellectuals, literatures and even sensitive bureaucrats and politicians in varied manner.

The worst of violations were faced after the Dam was completed, with the decision taken by the Center, once former Chief Minister of Gujarat became Prime Minister, in 2014. 17 meters gates were erected and closed in 2017, with the full height 138.68 mts attained. It was in 2019, 2020 but the scenario in monsoon 2023 was not due to heavy rainfall but due to weak or no regulation and monitoring of waterflows through a cascade of dams in Bergi to Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar. It was also due to the decision to keep the Sardar Sarovar gates almost fully closed till late in September 17 th , that flood entered
into about 150 villages, thousands of houses, causing massive destruction as well as death if 1200 cattle and 6 persons, including a 10 years old bitiya! Those houses which got demolished and belongings including food grains and fodder stored, furniture, equipment’s, etc, were already acquired since 90s and
some in 2000 – 2004. Those families which were declared ‘oustees’ as per the back water level s fixed by Central Water Commission (CWC) in 1984, were paid meagre compensation (as per then Act,1894) and the houses obviously got transferred to the authority, NVDA and many were also allotted house plots in
various Rehabilitation and Resettlement sites. However, the Report by a technical committee formed by NCA, revised the back water level, reducing in each village by 3 to 4 metres and excluded 15,946 families from submergence, who are affected. We continue to struggle for full compensation for all losses,
for getting their rehabilitation completed in compliance with law, policies and Hon. Supreme Courts’, Hon. High Courts’ orders. NBA’s demand is also that before 2024 monsoon, the following decisions should be taken on war footing.

All those who faced submergence without rehabilitation must be rehabilitated fully and fairly with all R & R benefits as per entitlement. This includes the families in tin sheds, those who are cheated in land
allotment, remaining families eligible for agri land/ 60 lakhs, potters, traders, boatsmen and fish workers to get their rights as per the policies.
ii. All the affected families who faced losses due to submergence without rehabilitation, should be fully compensated for the loss.
iii. The 15,946 families excluded from the submergence area and PAF’s list should be included, and their rehabilitation completed.
iv. The revised backwater levels should be cancelled and old backwater levels (reviewing at those points where needed) should be the basis to be declared.
v. Acquisition of the farms and houses, which got illegally submerged without acquisition, should be carried out at the earliest, with the consent of the affected.
vi. Appointment of rehabilitation officers and staff of all the vacant posts should be done immediately. Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA) should be having all 5 members appointed and 6,000+ grievances
should be redressed with appropriate modus operandi.
vii. The water level in Sardar Sarovar reservoir should be maintained at 122 metres till rehabilitation work of PAFs in all the 3 states, is completed.

The mission is to ensure that there will be no submergence of any house and farm without full and fair rehabilitation.

NBA is also keeping an eye on the status of Narmada, the mother river, a source of life for not only the riparian communities on the riverbank but also those who drink from, irrigate with the Narmada water and are devotees of the river. NBA is committed to save the water cycle from being destroyed by illegal,
unbound sand mining, with the Madhya Pradesh Hugh Courts and National Green Tribunal, Bhopal’s orders as well as the Supreme Court order and environmental laws.

NBA is also raising a voice against pollution of Narmada caused by industrial affluents, inorganic agriculture, and cruise like projects. NBA is a supportive movement for all struggles by people, for justice. We stand for social, environmental, and economic justice which is possible to gain only if the development paradigm is based on democratic and constitutional values and processes.

Reconstructive work as complementary to struggle
NBA has always been on the path of constructive work in the sectors, including land rights, forest rights, water management, education, health and migrant workers rights, etc.

Right in the 1980s and 1990s, NBA took up the issue of ‘No land settlement since independence,’ done in 73 villages of Akrani (Dhadgaon) tehsil in Nandurbar, 24 of which were in the Sardar Sarovar sbmergence. All those villagers finally were included as entitled to rehabilitation and received land in
lieu of land and other benefits. Forest dwellers were being looted in the Satpudas and Vindhyas, which could be stopped with strong protests and asserting rights. As a participant organization in the struggle and dialogue for implementation of Forest Rights Act, more than 100 villages in the Nandurbar
district, Narmada basin received Community Forest Rights (CFR) and also a few thousand individual rights to forest land under cultivation. Those residing and cultivating in the hamlets out of submergence, in the Sardar Sarovar affected villages, whose applications under FRA are asserting their rights too!!

NBA initiated a project of paramedical workers since 1990s and also pushed demands for the health and education services which were partly responded to and the Dispensaries on barges in Narmada got started, ANMs and Hamlet based health workers were appointed. Dysfunctioning of the schemes has led to continuation of the movement seeking justice. NBAs activist Latika Rajput is representative of Nandurbar district in the Maharashtra state committee. Community-based health monitoring is also a project. Yogini Khanolkar, Chetan Salve and other juniors work on various issues with consistency.

Narmada Jeevanshalas were started in 1992 in the hilly communities on realizing the absolute impossibility to get Zilla Parishad schools started and remain functional throughout a year, finding out the corrupt system. These schools of life have been run by the Narmada Navnirman Abhiyan Trust, since
2004, and have completed 30 yrs of work. The adivasi children learn apart from the Government Curriculum, about the adivasi culture, natural resources including forest, river, agriculture…as also the rights and struggle for the same. With great difficulty, yet simplicity and unity of the parents, teachers and
villagers’ jeevanshalas are run, as other work too, with supporters’ generosity, without any foreign funds. More than 6000 adivasi children have passed out and many have become teachers, social workers, government servants and best athletes.

Right to food through Public Distribution System (PDS) and Right to Housing, decentralized water management have also been the concerns and work areas of NBA and NNNA trust.

Fisherfolk, displaced by Sardar Sarovar are organized with legal and mass actions, and achieved formation of fisheries cooperatives – 21 in Maharashtra, 31+ in Madhya Pradesh. They are successful in getting right to fisheries in Sardar Sarovar, opposing contract system, a Federation is registered in Maharashtra while it is pending in Madhya Pradesh. Government of Maharashtra has granted support of many kinds – boats, nets, seedlings, fodder and even a few vehicles (pick-ups). Madhya Pradesh is consistently being requested for all these support activities, including training – but no response. Dam affected fish workers will no doubt seek their right as per the Madhya Pradesh state level fisheries policy. NBA in continuing to support them to protect their livelihoods and avoid exploitation by Big Contractors!

Organic farming, solar power (especially in hilly areas), saving forest from
destruction and diversion as well as rejecting the large dams, obstructing and
destroying river flows, as well as riverine ecosystems. In the present challenging
situation of climate change across India and the world, NBA will continue to
strive for climate justice to be attained through protecting not only Narmada,
but all river valley forests and rivers as perennial and unpolluted water flows!