INDIA Electricity for Development vs Displacement of People 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-38-2003
ISSUES: Indigenous people,

Dear Friends

The controversy over the large dams project on the River Narmada has come to symbolise the struggle for a just and equitable society in India. We are forwarding updated information from the Narmada Bachao Andolan organisation regarding the forced displacement of indigenous groups by the Narmada Valley Development Plan.

In brief, the Government plans to build 30 large, 135 medium, and 3,000 small dams to harness the waters of the Narmada and its tributaries. Opponents of the dam question the basic assumptions of the Narmada Valley Development Plan and believe that its planning is unjust and inequitable, and the cost-benefit analysis is grossly inflated in favour of building the dams. Supporters of the dam claim that this plan would provide large amounts of water and electricity, both of which are desperately required for the purposes of development.

The construction of the dams is causing a large scale abuse of human rights and the displacement of many poor and underprivileged communities. It is also believed that water and energy can be provided to the people of the Narmada Valley, and to Gujarat and other regions, through alternative technologies and planning processes, which can be both socially just and economically and environmentally sustainable.


(from Urgent Action Alert (31 July 2003) )

Hundreds of adivasi and peasant families – 1500 in Maharashtra and 12000 in Madhya Prashesh (MP) – will be directly affected by flooding this monsoon season. Their houses and fields, standing crops, specialised schools (jeevanshalas), and innovative experiments like the micro-hydel project in Domkhedi are all under threat. The water level is over 107 metres at the dam site (the current height of the dam is 103 metres, including humps).

It is the monsoon season and flooding has already started in the adivasi villages of Maharashtra and Madhya Prashesh, and hundreds of acres of standing crops are under water. Police have been sent to the tribal hamlets in Maharashtra to “save” the people, but in reality have been arresting them, and then releasing them after the water recedes. More than 74 people, including women and children, were arrested in Chimalkhedi village where police forcibly evicted them to their tin-sheds and destroyed their homes. On 31 July, police arrested 40 people – adivasis and activists who were protesting against the Maharashtra Government – in front of the Nandurbar District Collector’s office. Those arrested are being held in Dhule jail. Statements from the Government of Maharashtra in the Assembly and the Water Resources Minister in Parliament that all the people in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh who will be affected at 100m are, or have been, properly rehabilitated, are blatantly false. The people remain in their villages not because they refuse to be rehoused, but because they are NOT provided with any housing. This is a fact backed up by many teams such as the Maharashtra Task Force, the Justice Daud Committee Report, and the Habitat International Coalition, Maharashtra Task Force, Justice Daud Committee report and the Habitat International Coalition , who have exposed the hollowness of the Government’s claims.


Please email or write/fax the ministers concerned and ask for an immediate release of all the people who have been arrested. Please make a further request that all the people affected by these events are rehoused, and that the personal and proprietary safety and security of the tribal community is ensured. A sample letter can be found below, for your reference.


Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Address Shri Digvijay Singh,
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
Vallabh Bhavan
Madhya Pradesh
Fax +91-755-540 501; +91-755-551781
Phone +91-755-540500; +91-755-540361; +91-755-(540502 to 540504); +91-755-661503 (Residence)
+91-755-551581; +91-755-551433; (office)
Email OR
The Chairman, The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Address Sardar Patel Bhavan

Sansad Marg
New Delhi 110001

Fax Fax : 011-3340016 /3366537
Phone Phone: 011-3348477/3340016 / 3361175
The Chairman
SC ST Commission
Address 5th Floor, Loknayak Bhavan
Khan Market
New Delhi, 110003
Fax Fax 011-4625378
Email e-mail:
Ram Raja Nimbalkar

Maharashtra Rehabilitation Minister

Phone +91-22-5671836 (Office), +91-9822036083 (Mobile)
Ajit Nimbalkar

Chief Secy. Maharashtra

Phone +91-22-22025042/22028762 (Office) +91-9821092411 (Mobile) +91-22-22029949 (residence)
B.M. Lal

Principal Secy. Rehabilitation Maharashtra

Phone +91-22-2025274 (Office) +91-22-2026565 (Residence)
+91-22-2855290 (FAX)



To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER



I write regarding the Narmada Valley Development Plan, the Indian Government's plan to build 30 large, 135 medium, and 3,000 small dams to harness the waters of the Narmada River and its tributaries.

I am very concerned about the fate of the adivasi and peasant families - 1500 in Maharashtra and 12,000 in Madhya Prashesh - who are under threat from the Narmada Valley Development Plan. Their lives are in grave danger. And the lack of proper judicial processes for the adivasi and peasant families is also disturbing. 

The construction of the dams is causing a large scale abuse of human rights because of the forced displacement of the many poor and underprivileged communities and indigenous groups. Alternative technologies and planning processes, which are both socially just and economically and environmentally sustainable, should be used instead. I urge you to protect the lives of the adivasi and peasant families. 

Thank you. 

Yours faithfully


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-38-2003
Countries : India,
Issues : Indigenous people,