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.