‘Alternative Nobel’ Laureate Begins Hunger Strike Against India’s Mega Dam Evictions
Environment, Human Rights, 27/07/2017
Today, Indian activist and ‘Alternative Nobel’ Laureate Medha Patkar begins an indefinite fast on the banks of the Narmada River she has fought 30 years to save from mega dam projects.
Patkar, who shared the 1991 Right Livelihood Award with her Narmada Bachao Andolan movement, is protesting against the imminent eviction of some 40,000 families living in the areas that will be submerged once the gates of Sardar Sarovar, Narmada’s largest dam, are closed. The residents have been given until the end of the month to leave their homes – even if they have nowhere else to go.
According to the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists, this will represent the single biggest forced eviction in modern Indian history – despite a drawn-out legal battle to defend local residents’ right to resettlement and rehabilitation, twice confirmed by India’s Supreme Court.
At 163 meters high, Sardar Sarovar dam will have a reservoir spread over 40,000 hectares across three Indian states: Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Ironically, the planned completion of this mega-development project comes at a time of heavy rainfall in Gujarat, breaking the drought that was previously cited as the main reason for the dam.
“With not a drop of water being available to Madhya Pradesh from Sardar Sarovar, it’s shocking to see that the state does not hesitate to sacrifice its living communities. It has […] shamelessly declared the project across the world as a symbol of development,” activists said in a statement. Patkar and her colleagues are steadfast in calling for the rights of the affected communities to be respected, and for no one to be displaced until all rehabilitation and resettlement sites are ready with the necessary civic amenities.
Narmada Bachao Andolan is a non-violent movement of the people of Narmada. For more than three decades, the movement stood against India’s mega dam projects, calling for viable alternatives designed to benefit the poor and the environment. In the process, it forced the World Bank to withdraw its funding of the Narmada dam project, and contributed to building a global coalition against big dams.
For more information, please contact:
Narmada Bachao Andolan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Right Livelihood Award Foundation, email@example.com
Video about Medha Patkar’s 30-year battle to save the Narmada River is available from: https://vimeo.com/219489548