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Dams construction on the Narmada River, India


Description

The Narmada River flows for more than 1,300 km (808 miles) and crosses three different Indian States (Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat) before flowing into the gulf of Khambhat (Bharuch), north of Mumbai. Since the mid 1980s, the 25 million people living in the river valley strongly opposed the construction of a huge system of dams, including three large structures: the Sardar Sarovar, Indira Sagar and Maheshwar dams. Local citizens formed the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement), a grass root coalition of farmers, fisherfolks, landless farmers and also urban citizens in India, strongly opposed to the projects and political agenda on water and energy of the Governments of the three Indian States.

Among the international donors and funders, the World Bank was initially the main sponsor with an allocation of US$ 450 million for the most known dam, the Sardar Sarovar project. In 1993, following widespread protests, both in India and abroad, the World Bank withdrew from the project. This happened for the first time in the bank's history; the Morse Commission, set up for this purpose, conducted an in deep study of the case and released a scathing report (1), published as a book in 1992. This has produced an important change in the WB policy in the world, and drew attention of international media on the WB funded projects worldwide and their negative impacts.

Basic Data

NameDams construction on the Narmada River, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceMadhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat
SiteMultisituated
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Electricity
Land

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe project is composed of 3,000 small, 135 medium and 30 large dams. Out of them, the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the Indira Sagar Project (ISP) and the Maheshwar Dam are mega dams. The first is 138 meters high and generating an electrical capacity of 1,450 MW, would irrigate more than 1.8 million hectares.The third one should provide 400 MW of energy.
Level of Investment (in USD)450 million USD only from WB to SSD
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population25000000
Start Date1985
Company Names or State EnterprisesShree Maheshwar Hydro-Electric Power Corporation Ltd (SMHPC) from India
Siemens from Germany
PacGen
Bayernwerk from Germany
VEW Energie from Germany
Ogden Corporation from United States of America
Relevant government actorsSupreme Court of India, NWDTA - India, Relief and Rehabilitation Subgroup of the Narmada Control Authority, Madhya Pradesh Government, NHDC - India, High Court Of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra Government, Gujarat Government
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Power Finance Corporation (PFC) from India
Hermes
CorporaciĆ³n financiera Internacional (CFI)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNational Alliance of People's Movement - India, International Rivers, Save the Narmada Movement (Narmada Bachao Andolan, NBA)

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
A very broad movement in India. One of the leaders,Medha Patkar, became well know and influential beyond the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Self Immolation in neck deep waters (Jal Satyagraha) for days long portests.

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Global warming
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Corruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Migration/displacement
Development of AlternativesIf the principle land for land as per the Indian law cannot be fulfilled, opposition movements ask for the scrap of the dam projects, and the cancellation of any displacement scheme.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project started despite the local residents opposition, and it is still planned to built other dams, but during all this time the Court has decided to replace the displaced families in cultivable territories, and to investigate the violence and bribery the residents had suffered.

Sources and Materials

Legislations

PESA 1996 (Panchayat Act, Extention to Scheduled Areas)
http://tribal.nic.in/WriteReadData/CMS/Documents/201211290242170976562pesa6636533023.pdf

Rehabilitation&Resettlement Act (Special Scheme for Better and Liberal Provision for Rehabilitation, Narmada Valley Development Authority, Sept 1989, amended up to 31.05.2006)

Maheshwar dam: Environmental Clearance of MoFE dated 1.05.2001 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

References

Corporate Hijack of Water. Shiva,Vandana; Radha, Holla Bhar; Afsar H., Jafri; Kunwar, Jalees. Ed. NAVDANYA. 2002.

Linking of Indian Rivers: Some Question n.1. Ramaswamy R., Iyer. Ed. Research Foundation for Sciene,Technology and Ecology. 2003.

The impact of the River Linking Project n. 2. Shiva,Vandana; Kunwar, Jalees. Ed. Research Foundation for Sciene,Technology and Ecology. 2003.

The rule of water. Statecraft, ecology and collective action in South India. Mosse, David. Ed. Oxford India paperbacks. 2005.

Dharmadhikary, Shripad; Manthan Kendra, 2009, 'Power Sector Restructuring: The Often Ignored Aspect of Water Sector Reforms'
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.535.1333&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Roy, Arundhati, 'The Greater Common Good'. Available at:
http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-greater-common-good/207509

Drowing a Valley: Destroying a civilisation, Report of the

Central Fact Finding Team, May 2015
https://www.internationalrivers.org/files/attached-files/fact_finding_report_ssd2015.pdf

Baviskar, Amita. In the belly of the river: tribal conflicts over development in the Narmada Valley. Oxford University Press, 1999.

Links

Friends of the River Narmada
http://www.narmada.org/

WB policies on Hydropower in India
http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/03/23/india-hydropower-development

New Independent Review Documents Failure of Narmada Dam, 11/06/2008, International Rivers
http://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/227/new-independent-review-documents-failure-of-narmada-dam

Large dams on the Narmada river, Friends of Narmada river
http://www.narmada.org/nvdp.dams/

Medha Patkar and Baba Amte / Narmada Bachao Andolan (1991, India), The right livelihood award
http://www.rightlivelihood.org/narmada.html

India: Notes from the Struggle in the Narmada Valley, Ceasefire, 08/10/2013
https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/notes-struggle-narmada-valley-india/

Media Links

Gaon Chodab Nahin (we will not leave our village), adivasi protest song
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M5aeMpzOLU&list=HL1356881555&feature=mh_lolz

Land Grabbing, speech by Medha Patkar and David Harvey
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_Ia93DURSY

DAM / AGE : a documentary about ARUNDHATI ROY & the Narmada Dam Project
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ2iViE31bc

Narmada Bachao Andolan: Glimpses of a Remarkable Resistance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDcpEHdV2P8

Protest videos by NBA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v216fpC6HEE

Other Documents

Protest in Khandwa in November 2008 narmada.org
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/narmada_2008.jpg

Other CommentsAll dams have their own particular stories to be told. This is an effort to describe the overall issue.

Meta Information

ContributorLucie Greyl
Last update11/01/2016

Images

 

Protest in Khandwa in November 2008

narmada.org