Dear all,

Many of you are familiar with the 3-decade old non-violent struggle against the World Bank funded Narmada dam in India. While for the Bank it’s a closed project now, after the Bank was forced to withdraw from the project in 199, the devastation it started has taken a gigantic shape today, threatening the lives and livelihood of 40,000 families in this rainy season (Aug-Sept). The dam has been completed, violating all the norms and gates closed. Water is rising everyday, and very soon will flood hundreds of villages, with people no where to go, since R&R sites are not ready. The Union and state governments, governed by the same party, has shown apathy towards the people and have not bothered to even talk and engage in a dialogue.

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Large battalions of Police and Riot Force has been deployed in various parts of Badwani and Dhar districts.

In protest of the unjust submergence and there impending forced eviction, and demanding just and full rehabilitation for the ones affected by the dam, 12 people, including senior activist Medha Patkar ( are on indefinite fast since July 27.

Apart from raising issues on big dams and displacement in India and elsewhere, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA – The Save Narmada Movement), the people’s movement which spearheaded the struggle, have made significant contributions in the past three decades. One among them is the formation of Inspection Panel at the World Bank, the first accountability mechanism in any MDBs. Many of you have played an active role in forcing the Bank to review the project in 1992 by an Independent Review, which later was made a permanent body at the Bank. Findings of the report ( resonate for many Bank funded projects elsewhere, even today. This later led to the formation of the World Commission on Dams, with Medha Patkar serving as one of the Commissioners.

Considered to be a notable people’s movement in post-independent India, NBA has raised the issues of rights of indigenous people, advocated for the conservation of environment and protection of the centuries’ old archeological monuments from submergence. NBA has also significantly contributed to the development debate and raised the question on the significance of big dams.

Today, when the State is turning a deaf ear on them, people need the support of individuals and organisations from all over.

We request you to kindly sign on the attached letter to the Prime Minister of India, as a part of a collective letter from International CSOs to him, seeking his urgent intervention.

Since situation is serious, we request you to share this with as many people as possible and request them to lend the movement their support. Please send the endorsements, individual or organisational to before Aug 4th. We will send to the Prime Minister and release it to the media on August 5th.

For more updates:

In solidarity,

Joe Athialy

Letter to Prime Minister of India for Justice in Narmada Valley

August 4, 2017

Mr. Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India
7, Race Course Road
New Delhi, India

Dear Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi,

We are representatives of civil society organisations from xx countries writing to you to draw your urgent attention on the struggle for justice by the communities affected by the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Dam.

You are well aware about the criticality of the situation, with dam gates closed last month and 40,000 families, who are yet to be rehabilitated, are facing an imminent submergence later this month, or early September. While the state governments have failed to comply with the orders of the Supreme Court, relying on false information, the authorities have sanctioned closure of the dam gates. From newspapers and reports from the ground we learn that the state police has been called in to the villages to enforce evictions, even if it require force to be used.

Sir, you are well aware that forced evictions without adequate rehabilitation will violate many of the statues the Republic of India has signed, including Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Apart from the statues and guidelines from UN bodies, such a scenario will be violative of international best practices, safeguarding the rights of individuals, particularly women, children and the marginalised.

We have been following the three decade old, non-violent, Gandhian Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA – Save Narmada Movement) the past many years. Taking on the World Bank, which funded the dam in 1985, it helped the Bank review and strengthen its social and environmental safeguard policies and accountability mechanisms. As we write to you, we learn that 12 people, including its senior activist Medha Patkar are on an indefinite fast since July 27. It is disturbing to hear that no senior government official has reached out to them yet for talks.

We support the demands of NBA that submergence should not be allowed until every family is adequately rehabilitated with all basic amenities. While the exact number of people to be rehabilitated is yet to be ascertained, an independent body identifying them would be the first step towards rehabilitation for all. It is appalling to note that while thousands of complaints of the ones moved to the rehabilitation sites – on absence of amenities, bad quality of land and failure to recognise people as oustees, the state governments have got away ‘rehabilitating’ 40,000 families on paper.

Sir, as the Prime Minister of world’s largest democracy, we hope that you will rise to the occasion, with act with all urgency it calls for, to stop the human rights abuses happening the villages of Narmada.

Signed by:


(This letter was floated on social media by SANDRP, working for water resource development. Original post can be accessed here.)

Also read: TA’s short note on the situation in Badwani.