Who are we?
First, we want to make it clear that we are NOT the Narmada Bachao Andolan . The struggle against the construction of mega-dams on the River Narmada in India is symbolic of a global struggle for social and environmental justice. The Friends of River Narmada is an international coalition of individuals and organizations (primarily of Indian descent). In particular, we are a support and solidarity network for the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada movement) which has been fighting for the democratic rights of the citizens of the Narmada Valley. The Friends of River Narmada is entirely volunteer-based. The Friends of River Narmada holds :
- that the Narmada Valley Development Project (NVDP) has been conceived without adequate participation from the people who are going to be affected;
- that many dams of the NVDP are not viable solutions to many of the problems (power, drinking water, flood control, irrigation) they set out to solve, and that there needs to be a greater emphasis on the search for alternative solutions from all concerned (Government, NGOs, people);
- that the construction and planning of many dams of the NVDP has disrupted (and will potentially disrupt) the lives of millions of people without just and adequate compensation;
- that the people of the Narmada Valley are waging a just and legitimate struggle to assert their right to life, livelihood, and participation in their own development;
- that while the country can ask for sacrifices from its people, such people must be justly and adequately compensated for the sacrifices that they are thus making;
- that while the country can ask for sacrifices from the people of the Valley for the greater cause of national progress, the burden of sacrifice should be distributed across the nation, and not be restricted to a specific group of people;
- that the NVDP is merely an example of a much bigger problem that is manifesting itself across the country: the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, the Enron controversy in the Dabhol Power Project in Maharashtra, the controversy over the Cogentrix project, the forgery of Environmental Clearances by Ernst & Young; the controversy over the construction of the Bangalore-Mysore highway, the human rights abuses over the port construction at Maroli, and the list goes on.
- that the struggle in the Narmada Valley consequently throws up much deeper issues about the developmental choices being followed in India and elsewhere, and that there needs to be a much wider debate of these choices;
- that the Narmada Bachao Andolan is a symbol of hope for people's movements all over the world that are fighting for just, equitable, and participatory development.