Community Correspondents

Chetan Salve


Chetan Salve is a seasoned activist with the Narmada Bachao Andolan. He has seen first hand the chronic illiteracy, unemployment and dearth of infrastructure which make his state one of the most critical in India.

Further compounding these issues is the ever-impending Sardar Sarovar Project on the river Narmada, which, due to submergence, threatens the very survival of over 41,000 families in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.  It was this threat which drove Chetan to give up his full-time job with Usama Dyeing Mills in Gujarat to realise his true calling, activism.

Consistent with the Project Coordinator role he held for the National Rural Health Mission (2007-2012), Chetan has produced a series of videos on health infrastructure.  These videos reveal the government's disregard for the health of India’s most vulnerable on issues ranging from sanitary drainage, access to Pediatricians and other health personnel, and clean drinking water. One of his most recent videos, for example, revealed government incompetence and corruption in the allocation of 18,400 INR meant for the installation of toilets in community centres and private homes.  As articulated by Chetan, 1500 people remain affected by this lack of allocation of funds and likewise the lack of toilets.  

Chetan’s work has also inspired change with respect to the ineptitude of administrators of the MNREGA’s (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) employment scheme.  While MNREGA guarantees employment to any adult who applies for work in rural areas, or, in the situation where there is no work, an unemployment allowance to job-seekers. His untiring follow-up of the story resulted in salaries, whose total worth was 8.5 lakhs, reaching rightful labourers.

The work for which Chetan is most recently known for, however, is that surrounding theSardarSarovar Project, which was launched in his home region on the river Narmada.  While the Government asserts that the project will ultimately affect 2 lakh, people, researchers claim that this is a very conservative estimate.  The projects “Master Plan,” including government compensation of land for land(referred to as “rehabilitation”, was meant to be completed by 1981, but three decades have passed and still thousands of people affected by the project have not been rehabilitated.  Along with the social movement Narmada BachaoAndolan (NBA), Chetan has launched a campaign against the government and in so doing has managed to rehabilitate 4000 families displaced by development activities.  In one such action he organised a protest and land claim and videoed it in his capacity as a Video Volunteer:

“ I was persistent about my claims with the government.  I organised a collective protest. And on March 21st I gave a warning letter to the government stating that if the government doesn’t give land … we will acquire land ourselves.  The government didn’t pay heed to our warnings, therefore we took over the land ourselves.  And now my community has been allotted one-hectare land.”

This reconnection of farmers to their means of income, namely arable land, has been essential not only to their ability to provide for their families, but also to their self-confidence, sense of identity, and the re-establishment of their communities.

Considering this devotion to the rights of the voiceless, it is no wonder that Chetan has earned the respect of others in his taluka, or region. With his video camera as a tool of exposure and impact, we look forward to the future that Chetan is shaping in his community one video at a time.

“This is Chetan, and this is my community.”

Videos from Chetan

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The Empty Promise of ‘Vikas’ for this Maharashtra Village

/ May 7, 2018

Residents of this village on the foothills of the Satpura range are yet to reap the benefits of Narendra Modi’s much touted ‘acche din’.

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Sardar Sarovar: The Pitfalls of India’s Biggest Development Project

/ February 5, 2018

Of the 6.5 crore people displaced by development projects in India over 50 years, less than 20% have been rehabilitated. But here's what happened even after rehabilitation in the case of Sardar Sarovar.

Rehabilitated and Inundated: A Narmada Resettlement Colony Fights Back

/ September 22, 2017

First displaced by the flooding caused by the Sardar Sarovar Dam, these Narmada oustees are still living in fear of submergence.

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12,000 Women in Maharashtra Get Maternal Health Benefits After a Year

/ August 14, 2017

Community Correspondent Chetan Salve fought for a year so that women from marginalised sections could access benefits promised under Manav Vikas Yojana.

Labouring on the Fields During the Ninth Month of Pregnancy

/ August 7, 2017

Schemes benefitting poor women are disbursed to them through bank accounts. But a large number of the beneficiaries do not even have access to banks.

700-year-old traditional Holi of Adivasis of Maharasthra

/ March 31, 2016

The peace and tranquility of the villages on the foothills Satpura hill ranges in Maharashtra had taken a back seat for the past 15 days, as the atmosphere was charged with singing and dancing. Members of the Bhil tribe of the Satpura Hill regions from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh...

No Financial Benefits For Pregnant Women – Chetan Salve Reports for IndiaUnheard

/ February 9, 2017

Rural pregnant women are motivated to deliver their babies in hospitals rather than in their homes, according to Manav Vikas Mission (Human Development Mission). This program, launched in 2006 is an initiative of Government of Maharashtra to increase Human Development Index (HDI) of backward districts of Maharashtra, India. Under this...

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Displaced Tribals From Sardar Sarovar Dam Get Land

/ February 10, 2017

Fishing and Farming were the major means of livelihood for Vadgya Vasave and 2 other Bhil tribal families of Shahada Block who were displaced from the banks of Narmada River to Narmada Nagar, Nandurbar district, Maharashtra in the year 1995. These tribal families were displaced by the government for Sardar...