Narmada Bachao Andolan [Save Narmada Movement] is a people’s movement that mobilized, adivasis farmers tribal farmers against the Sardor Sarover Dam being built across the Narmada River. The Dam when built would cause immense ecological damage through the inundations of forests, including prime habitats of rare species. The proponents of the Dam claim that this plan would provide larger amounts of water and electricity, which are desperately required for development. The opponents of the Dam question the basic assumptions of the Narmada valley Dev. Plan and believe the planning is unjust and iniquitous and the cost benefits analysis is grossly inflated in favor of building the Dams. It is well established that the plans rest on untrue and unsound assumptions of hydrology and seism city of the area and the construction is causing large scale abuse of human rights and the displacements of many poor and underprivileged communities. There is not remotest prospect that the displaced people the ‘out sees’ will be adequately settled not that the ecological damage compensated for. There are also real doubts borne out by the experience of larger Dams else where in India that the Dams yield main projected benefits of Hydro power Irrigation and drinking water.
NBA started as people’s movement against this development in the mid 1980’s; it has greatly succeeded in generating a heated debate across the sub. Continent between the pro’s and against the Dam construction. Medha Patkar has associated herself with the NBA along with Baba Amte another activist. Medha Patkar is a graduate in Social science. She moved to live among the tribes of the Narmada valley in the 1980’s and alerted them to the fate, which awaited them when the Dam got constructed. NBA vigorously campaigned for the rehabilitation and resettlement for the Dam ‘oustees’
Two newspapers ‘Hindu’ and ‘New Indian Express’ have taken two different views on the Narmada issue. While Hindu sided with NBA, Express took the side of Dam promoters. Eco disaster did not prevent these people to drop the height of the Dam. Even if we accept the development of the four states is the only criterion we must at least accept that the Dam oustees rehabilitation and resettlement should have taken care of. What Meda patkar now insist that the families of the oustees should have been compensated fully before the construction of the Dam. Is not fair that Narendre Modi and his cohorts should try to understand the justice behind the oustees demand. Is it because they are tribals and Adivasis?
Amir khan the super star who, produced such a thought provoking film Rang De Basanti have lent his weight to NBA. He has understood the problems of Adivasis and Tribals. But BJP and Congress parties in Gujarat have agitated against Amir khan and indulged in vandalism in Theatres in which Amir’s films were screened. These two parties are at each other’s throat in political battle for share in spoils of pie. But they joined hands to oppose Amir’s support for NBA. Perhaps vote bank politics prevented them to side with the poor and have-nots. Amir has rightly said in his interview with ND T.V.
“The political parties in Gujrat are trying to protest me. I want the nation to watch this footage very carefully. This is the way they speak.”
He has further said
“I have seen water problem that the people of Kutch faced and I am extremely sympathetic to the cause. I want water to reach all these four states and the people who need this water.”
He only wants the people who are displaced should be compensated for. What a bold line he has taken? There is a difference between the super stars of North and the super stars of South. Super stars of South are greedy and power hungry and they act in front as well as behind the camera. The super stars of North are socially aware and they act only in front of the camera not behind. Be it Sunil dutt Dilip kumar or Shobna Azmi or Vivek Oberoi.
Instead of appreciating of Medha Patkar and Amir Khan some people are critising their stand and protest. What Arundhati Roy has said is correct. Here is what she said :
“… The poor of the country are already deciding why they are taking of arms all over Chattisgarh, Orissia,Jharkahand.”