What is Narmada Bachao Andolan?

Narmada Bachao Andolan is a mass movement against the Sardar Sarovar Dam that is being constructed on Narmada River in Gujarat, India. This movement was initiated by several rural people including farmers, adivasis, environmentalists, etc. in 1985, when the idea was first presented. The river is the largest source of water in the western region of India, where people use this water for various occupation and other needs.

Initially, Narmada Bachao Andolan was started only to protest against the loss of animals and vegetation that might be caused due to the construction. However, they later realized that this project could leave about 2,50,000 people homeless. Narmada Bachao Andolan then transformed into a mass movement of fighting for this their houses and rehabilitation facility. However, consistent efforts are being made by the Indian government to help these people.

The protesters have a non-violent approach of expressing their disagreement. They observe hunger strike, display of banners, seek help from famous personalities and celebrities, etc. to come into the notice of the Indian government. Their message is simple: look for alternative sources of water and electricity.  Some of the famous people that supported the movement were AAmir Khan and Arundhati Roy.

The Indian government has taken a loan of $550 million from the World Bank to construct more than 3000 dams of various sizes across Narmada River. If the project is implemented successfully, it would be the biggest project in the history of India, generating exceptional returns for the government. The implementers believe that the project will produce about 1450 MW electricity, and also clean drinking water to millions of villagers.

The movement gained wide media attention when celebrities started supporting the cause. However, the activists lately turned to violence to get their opinion across. Many activists attacked the people who took money from the government to relocate. The upheaval due to the Narmada Bachao Andolan has interrupted the process of construction several times.

Although making about 2,50,000 people homeless seems to be quite a cruel act, the government has been trying hard to control it. Besides, if the project is completed successfully, many millions from the nearby villages would be benefited.

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