Narmada Bachao Andolan activists protest against the raising of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River.


With 4,300 large dams already constructed and many more in the pipeline, India is one of the world's most prolific dam-builders. Large dams in India are estimated to have submerged about 37,500 square kilometres – an area almost the size of Switzerland – and displaced tens of millions of people. Because of these impacts and the inequitable distribution of risks and riches that large dams bring, people in India have been fighting dams for decades. Through the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement), villagers are opposing the massive Narmada Valley Development Project, which envisages hundreds of large dams and an extensive irrigation system that would together displace millions of people.

Besides the Narmada Valley Development Project, the government of India is committed to a huge acceleration in dam construction in the country’s northern and north-eastern regions and neighboring countries. Most of the planned dams would be located in Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, Sikkim and Mizoram, as well as in Nepal and Bhutan. The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are ready to provide financial support for some of the planned dams.

International Rivers has supported the movement fighting dams on the Narmada since the 1980s and works to mobilize international pressure to stop these destructive projects. In cooperation with a network of activists and organizations in India, International Rivers is also challenging the new plans and pressing for infrastructure developments that target the needs of the most marginalized people.