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

‘Stop this joke’ Narmada Dam displaced tell Maharashtra Govt

/ October 18, 2016

Under the Narmada Dam project, better known as Sardar Sarovar Project, 33 villages of Maharashtra will be submerged. While the Maharashtra Government states on paper that 21 families have been rehabilitated, the families state that this is all a lie. Chetan Salve, Video Volunteers Community Correspondent from Maharashtra investigated the...

Stealing the reward: Head of Tantamukti group steals reward money

/ September 15, 2016

Corruption exists at all levels in India, wherever there is a position of power. Due to this, the good Samaritans amongst even the poorest of the poor are denied services and through that justice itself. Tantamukt group in Danel village of Maharashtra had done commendable services in the past. They...

Impact: Community brings Narmada oustee justice

/ July 27, 2016

Atya Devji Padvi, a Narmada ousted farmer from Taloda district of Maharashtra, had been demanding his rightful land from Maharashtra government for more than 20 years but had given up hopes of ever owning a land once again. But Chetan Salve, the community’s correspondent is also an activist with the Narmada Bachao...

Government Officials take a fair-step towards solving problems in Maharashtra

/ June 9, 2016

We have heard plenty about the apathy shown by government officials towards the problems of marginalised communities. On the other side, lack of awareness and knowledge about the various schemes that are there at their disposal becomes a hindrance for the communities, while demanding their rights. However, the government officials...

The fishing community of Madhya Pradesh suffers due to Narmada Dam

/ June 6, 2016

As the sun sets on the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh (MP), an old fisherman recalls the days when his community was bestowed with abundance and prosperity. Madhubhai Machware nostalgically tells Chetan Salve, Video Volunteers’ correspondent, “Before this dam was built, we had led prosperous, happy lives. But in the...

51 villages will be submerged by Sardar Sarovar Dam

/ May 31, 2016

The picturesque village of Kasrawad stands by the banks of river Narmada. However, the village may be soon consumed by the river, which had nourished it for centuries due to the nearby Sardar Sarovar Dam. While a government survey back in 2001 had claimed that over 360 houses will be...

Over 2 decades later, the Narmada-dam displaced still wait for their land

/ May 24, 2016

Twenty-two years ago, in 1994, Jugla Vasave was ousted from his home and farm in Chimalkhadi village in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, when the Sardar Sarovar Dam was built along the Narmada river. He, along with many others, was promised to be rehabilitated with an arable land by the state...