The following is an excerpt taken from an article by Maggie Black, published in the July issue of New Internationalist magazine:
The day of judgement - The case of Narmada vs the Union of India was a case of The People vs Development. The People lost. Or did they?
On 18 October 2000 the Supreme Court of India handed down an historic judgement. The Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save Narmanda movement - NBA) had petitioned the Court to halt the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada River. By a majority of two to one the judges decided that the dam should go up from its existing 88 metres towards the full final height of 139 metres. On the evening television news the leader of the NBA - Medha Patkar - was seen by the nation to be in tears.
Her anguish was understandable. Since entering the petition in 1994, the Andolan had presented a mountain of evidence that the project had flouted its conditions of construction and was unlikely to fulfil its promises to take water to thousands of parched villages in Gujarat. Only one judge had treated the NBA's evidence with respect. Because of the descision, the lands and forests that support the lives of 200,000 people will be submerged. To date, the 'rehabilitation' they are entitled to is, for many, a sham. Thousands of others who don't face actual submergence also face destitution, but there is no rehabilitation at all for them.