A Narmada Diary (1995): Screening & Potluck

In the third in a series of film screenings, dinners and discussions happening every Friday evening through December 17th at Decolonize This Place, Colloquium for Popular Culture and MTL+ present A Narmada Diary, a 1995 documentary on the struggle of those adversely impacted by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project, directed by Anand Patwardhan and Simantini Dhuru. A record from about 1990-1993, of the measures adopted and hardship faced by the Narmada Bachao Andolan movement and the people inhabiting the place affected was presented. The documentary won the "Filmfare Award for Best Documentary, 1996" and the "Grand Prize" at Earth-Vision Film Festival, Tokyo, 1996. In spite of winning the central government's national awards, the movie was not allowed to be shown on National TV.

The Sardar Sarover Dam in western India, lynchpin of a mammoth development project on the river Narmada’s banks, has been criticized as uneconomical and unjust. It will benefit urban India at a cost borne by the rural poor. When completed, the dam will drown 37,000 hectares of fertile land, displace over 200,000 adivasis – 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 it’s 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 slum dwellers.

A Narmada Diary is the third of a weekly series at Decolonize This Place led by writer and film critic Sukhdev Sandhu from Colloquium for Popular Culture with MTL+ every Friday evening. This will focus on the collective viewing of popular and experimental films that have direct impact on movement-building in the present. Accompanied a potluck dinner and discussion, the screening program will be responsive to the conversation that develops through the three-month series, and will in turn feed back into the actions and organizing of Decolonize This Place. Bring food and friends!