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Narmada Bachao Andolan – The longest living Gandhian Movement (2020 Update)

This article is about the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Here is all the information that you need to know concerning the Narmada Ba
This article is about the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Here is all the information that you need to know concerning the Narmada Bachao Andolan 2020.


  1. Introduction
  2. Narmada Bachao Andolan – The longest living Gandhian Movement
  3. Evolution of Narmada Bachao Andolan
  4. Narmada Bachao Andolan – Formation
  5. Withdraw of Funds By Word bank
  6. Narmada Bachao Andolan Writ Petition
  7. What was the Court Decision?
  8. Things Narmada Bachao Andolan Achieved
  9. Present Status of Narmada Bachao Andolan
  10. Conclusion


Narmada Bachao Andolan is of the Indian social movement led by native tribal, farmers, environmentalists, and human rights activists. They used this move to oppose the massive dam projects across the Narmada river.

Sardar Sarovar Dam is one of the first focal points of the movement. This dam is part of the Narmada dam project. The aim of this project is to provide irrigation and electricity to people of the Gujarat Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The mode of the campaign for Narmada Bachao Andolan includes court actions, hunger strikes, rallies, and gathering support from notable personalities.

Narmada Bachao Andolan – The longest living Gandhian Movement

Narmada Bachao Andolan
Narmada Bachao Andolan

Narmada Bachao Andolan speaks for a great struggle of ordinary people who are using forgotten Gandhian tools and reinterpreting them. The Sardar Sarovar Dam is backed by the entire state apparatus. However, it still rippling across the oral traditions, in memories, stories, and folk narratives. After the decisions were taken to build the dams across the Narmada river, the Adivasis were said that they only need to relocate from where they presently are. The authorities told them that they will be given proper facilities in the place of their relocation.

The protestors accused that the authorities never completed the procedure of relocation and resettlement. According to the protesters, the people who were initially relocated had to come back to the river bank due to less fertile land and issues with the fodders. This is how the people formulated and together started to protest. The protest we now know as Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Evolution of Narmada Bachao Andolan

Manibeli village protesters
Manibeli village protesters

All the people started protesting on April 2nd, 1992, in Manibeli village. This village is located 8 kilometers from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The protestors took an oath that even if the waters come, they will battle even against it.

The goal of this operation to move the people from flood zones of the Narmada river. For this, officials sent hundreds of policemen to Manibeli village to shift the people, however, they could only manage to transfer 13 families out of the flood zone. The majority of the village took a vow to stay put in their town.

Narmada Bachao Andolan – Formation

The formation of Narmada Bachao Andolan was led by various groups. Most of the prominent groups were based in Gujarat, who called themselves Narmada Asargastha Samithi (Committee of the affected people). Narmada Ghati Nav Niran Samithi ( Committee for a new life in Narmada Valley) is based on Madhya Pradesh. Finally, Maharashtra found the Narmada Dharangrastha Samithi (Committee for Narmada dam affected people).

Some of the most famous slogans of Narmada Bachao Andolan include:

  • Vikas Chahiye, Vinas Nahin! (Development wanted, not destruction)
  • Koi Nahi Hatega, Bandh Nahi Banega (We won’t move, the dam won’t be constructed)

Withdraw of Funds By Word bank

You may already know that Work Bank had invested 450 million dollars for the construction of Sardar Sarovar Dam. Due to the anti-dam protests rising to an extent, the World Bank’s pressure became high. They were forced to conduct their separate survey regarding the economic and technical terms of the dam. However, they didn’t analyze the social or environmental conditions of the dam, which are the central concept. Later, they found severe flaws in the project, and hence the committee recommended the bank to pull out their investments.

The close association of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Medha Patkar (1), and her colleagues decided to have a meeting with the World Bank President Mr. Lewis T. Preston (2) during his visit to Bombay in Nover 1992. They were later disappointed when Mr. Preston sent his assistant rather than himself to talk to Medha Patkar. They were informed that Mr. Preston has a busy schedule and is not able to meet them. The protestors wanted the World Bank to withdraw its funding. The protestors gathering outside the hotel where he was staying. All these chaos finally led to the World Bank to withdraw from the project.

Narmada Bachao Andolan Writ Petition

The Narmada Bachao Andolan, a non-Governmental Organization (1), filed a writ petition before the court. They raised several issues, including relief and rehabilitation of the villagers in their appeal.

The protesters also raised a grievance against the attitude on the part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is because they attempted to wriggle out of its responsibilities to provide rehabilitation. According to the protesters, instead of giving facilities to the ousters, they offered them cash in the form of compensation. They also made a petition to hold the construction at least for one year after the resettlement of these project-affected families at 90 meters. This petition became famous as Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs. Union of India.

What was the Court Decision?

The court said:

  • Tribal and other persons replacement would not result in the violation of their rights
  • Their rehabilitation would be better off of what they were at a new location
  • The rehabilitation sites will have more and better amenities
  • Gradual assimilation in the mainstream society for betterment and progress

Things Narmada Bachao Andolan Achieved

These are some of the achievements of Narmada Bachao Andolan:

  • Gaining worldwide support for Narmada Bacho Andolan
  • Success in the rehabilitation of people
  • Getting World Bank out of the Sardar Sarovar Dam project in 1993
  • Halting the construction of Sardar Sarovar Dam from 1994 to 1999
  • Formation of National Alliance for people’s movement

Present Status of Narmada Bachao Andolan

Despite the protests, the project was revived in the year 2000 with 110 m. under the directions of the Supreme Court. Later the hight increased to 121.92 m. in 2006 to reach its highest mark at 138.68 m. in 2019. This place is now one of the most popular tourist places with various attractions, especially The Statue of Unity.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan activist, including Medha Patkar, continues to fight for proper rehabilitation of the villagers as well as the reception of the promised compensation. Later the Supreme Court charged the Narmada Bachao Andolan with perjury in 2011 for providing false information under oath.


The struggle and gaining of Narmada Bachao Andolan is a symbol of the global struggle for social and environmental justice. The activists like Medha Patkar and Baba Amte were suppressed a lot, yet they never lost their determination. They fought and became successful in obtaining many of their objectives.