The Sardar Sarover Dam in western India, lynch-pin of a mammoth development project on the river Narmada's banks, has been criticized as uneconomical and unjust. It will benefit prosperous urbanites at a cost borne by the rural poor.
When completed, the dam will drown 37,000 hectares of fertile land, displace over 200,000 adivasi - the area's indigenous people -, and cost up to 400 billion rupees. Ecological, cultural, and human costs - as often is the case with "mega" projects - have never been estimated.
A NARMADA DIARY introduces the Narmada Bachao Andolan (the Save Narmada Movement) which has spearheaded the agitation against the dam. As government resettlement programs prove inadequate, the Narmada Bachao Andolan has emerged as one of the most dynamic struggles in India today. With non-violent protests and a determination to drown rather than to leave their homes and land, the people of the Narmada valley have become symbols of a global struggle against unjust development.
But the dam building continues. If its height is not checked, the entire adivasi region of the Narmada will drown. In the name of progress, a relatively self-sufficient, egalitarian and environmentally sound economy and culture will be destroyed and a proud people reduced to the status of refugees and slumdwellers.
"A NARMADA DIARY tells the story of Indian villager resistance to the enormous Sardar Sarovar dam project... and explores a number of issues appropriate for either high school or college classrooms. The issue of development versus the environment is universal. The film also offers other interesting points for discussion... and touches upon [subjects] that deal with such eternal struggles as rich versus poor, rural versus urban, and tradition versus progress."—Education About Asia
Best Documentary, 1996 Filmfare
"Documents one of the most dynamic global struggles against unjust and unsustainable development. For social & ecological studies/current issues classes. A RECOMMENDED RESOURCE."—Skipping Stones