A CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS IN THE MAHESHWAR STRUGGLE

February 1997 People of Maheshwar approach the Narmada Bachao Andolan to help organize them.

Notices had been received by some colony-affected people to acquire their lands.


25 April 1997 First rally at Mandleswar. Attended by around 2,500 people.

People question the government and the S. Kumars about the extent of submergence, and the arrangements for rehabilitation. No answers from either.

Formation of the Narmada Ghati Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti to spearhead struggle against big dams in the entire valley.


6 June 1997 Joint demonstration and gherao outside NVDA office at Bhopal.

Attended by oustees of Tawa, Bargi, Goi, Veda, Maheshwar, Sardar Sarovar and Narmada Sagar dams.


15-25 August 1997 Demonstration of Bargi dam oustees at Jabalpur and fast.


3 October 1997 12,000 strong rally of Maheshwar dam oustees at Mandleswar.

People once again question the government and the S. Kumars.
The Sub-Divisional Magistrate lies and tells the crowd that there is no submergence in Maheshwar.
Is confronted by a government report available with the NBA that 61 villages are submerging.


Post-October 1997 Dam authorities step up work on the dam site including blasting to intimidate the affected people.

Cracks develop in houses in Jalud and Lepa.


11 January 1998 6 people go on fast demanding review.


30 January 1998 GOMP announces review of Maheshwar Project and related works.

GOMP also announces review of all big dams on Narmada and the examination of alternatives.


3 April 1998 The government betrays its own orders and promises made to the people by restarting work on the dam site in the name of a 'protection wall'.

Rally of 25,000 people at Mandleswar in the presence of Baba Amte.


22 April 1998 Around 3,000 people enter and capture the dam site and stop work on the dam.

People fight off police all day. Brutal arrests in the evening, beating and manhandling of women. Use of special police force. People kept in Mandleswar and Maheshwar jails. Several women with injuries hospitalised.


23 April 1998 More affected people storm the dam site despite prohibitory orders.
Brutal lathi charge, teargassing and firing, people chased into the river.
Women in particular badly beaten up and threatened with sexual assault.
Special police force - 'black cats' - used. People kept in Khargone and Kasravad jails.
Several wounded people hospitalised.


May - July 1998 People's barricades at 5 places closing all roads to the dam site.
Hundreds of people squat at each barricade point preventing any material from reaching the dam site.
Police action every 10 days, arrest hundreds of men and women and let some, but very inadequate, amount of material pass to the dam site.
During this, there are repeated arrests, many women are wounded, and one man is fully stripped by the police.
People's resistance puts enormous pressure on the state government.


17 June 1998 National Commission of Women, after their extremely critical report about the 22nd and 23rd April incidents, force the Chief Minister to visit the area and meet with the NBA.

8,000 women sit all day at Mandleswar waiting for the Chief Minister's response.
Unfortunately the Chief Minister gives no concrete response.
Subsequently extends the time-frame for the task force by another 6 months.


October 1998 Task Force report is released.
Unambiguous in its recommendation that all dam work must be stopped until
  1. the economic viability of the project,
  2. the possibility of rehabilitation of the affected people based on the principles of land for land, land for landless, and community resettlement, and
  3. actual availability of land is established afresh.
Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) elections approaching.
State government puts election funding from S. Kumars as more important than accountability to people.
Sets aside Task Force recommendations and allows project work to resume.
Actual work on project resumed only in January after elections.


27 November 1998 Huge rally in Mandleswar asking for task force recommendations to be implemented and projecting alternatives to project. Baba Amte and 8,000 people attend.


8 January 1999 Capture of dam site by thousands of people.


24 January 1999 Capture of dam site by thousands of people.


18 February 1999 Capture of dam site by thousands of people.


31 March 1999 Capture of dam site by thousands of people.
Warning to state government that people will embark on indefinite action.


6 April - 2 May 1999 Journey to Bhopal, through Indore.
Indefinite dharna launched.
Fast for 21 days by 8 or 9 people, mostly women of the Maheshwar area, and including representatives of those affected by Veda dam.

The dharna raised questions about all projects in the Narmada valley, including Bargi, Man, Jobat, Veda, Goi, Sardar Sarovar, and Maheshwar projects. Dharna continues for 26 days. During the fast, 2 companies viz. Bayernwerk and VEW, which were to give 49% of project equity, withdraw from project.
Big victory for the people. However, Madhya Pradesh government agrees to talk about all projects except Maheshwar. Fast withdrawn on 2nd May, after state government agrees to stop work on and review Narmada Sagar, scrap Veda and Goi, implement energy and water alternatives with the help of the NBA, do land-based rehabilitation for oustees of partially-built Man and Jobat projects, and conduct a seismic review of Narmada Valley Projects in light of fresh seismic activity in the valley.


31 August 1999 Rally for the Valley.
Huge rally of about 10,000 people at affected village, Pathrad.
Huge boat rally of 600-700 boats. Overwhelming response.
People sit for hours despite slush and rain.

On 17 September there is a demonstration at Commissioner's office where he makes wild allegations which attacks character women in the Andolan. Gherao at Free Press office demanding withdrawal of allegations. Editor of Free Press apologizes.


29 November - 1 December 1999 Dharna at Delhi of 500 affected people for 3 days.
Meetings with officials of Central Electricity Authority, National Commission of Women, Ministry of Environment, etc.
Meeting within and demonstration outside German Embassy.
People hand over 10,000 postcards to the Embassy officials asking that the Hermes Guarantee not be given to the Maheshwar Project.


11 January 2000 People begin another round of indefinite action.
4,000 people capture dam site, and a 1,000 more are waiting on the banks of the river at Jalud.
The 4,000 people at the dam site were arrested by the police after a lot of struggle.
Black Cat commandos and Special Task Force police were present during these operations.
Finally, around 1,000 people were arrested and kept in Maheshwar jail. After keeping the villagers in jail for some time the police sought to release them, but the villagers refused to vacate the jail premises till their questions about the Maheshwar Project were satisfactorily answered.


12 - 14 January 2000 People sit in jail on satyagraha waiting for responses by the government to questions they have raised about the Project. The Collector of Khargone, Mr. Bhupal Singh, provides answers on 13th January on behalf of the government but these are very unsatisfactory and prove that the government has no answers to the most fundamental questions raised by the project-affected people.


15 January 2000 People take out a rally in Maheshwar and promise to continue the struggle against the Maheshwar Project and press for satisfactory and complete answers to their questions.
January 22 - 25, 2000 Rallies held in 3 project affected villages.
February 17, 2000 300 elected representatives of Maheshwar-affected area issued resolution opposing the dam.
February 24, 2000 Affected people organize indefinite sit-in protest at dam site.
March 8, 2000 Police beat and arrest demonstrators.
March 23, 2000 Ogden Energy Group signs Memorandum of Intent to take 49% equity share in Maheshwar Dam.
April 4, 2000 200 demonstrate at American Embassy in New Delhi to protest against Ogden's involvement.
April 10, 2000 German supporters organize a protest in Berlin against export credit guarantees for the dam.
May 2000 In response to protests, German government sends independent fact-finding mission to investigate resettlement issues.