Community Correspondents

Pawan Solanki


Pawan Solanki is a second-generation member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the “Save the Narmada Movement”. 

Pawan Solanki grew up with the threat of displacement hanging over his head. His family lives along the banks of the Narmada River, the site of one of the world’s largest and most controversial dam projects. He knows the reality of a displaced community and fights the battle for justice and rehabilitation on behalf of his community.

Being a second-generation member of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, or “Save the Narmada Movement,” his entire life – right from his naming to his college education – has revolved around the movement to demand and the people caught up in it. His first experience with the Narmada Bachao Andolan was when got enrolled in a Jeevanshala, schools run by the movement. “I crossed a river to join this school when I was a child. All my school mates were displaced, just like me, by the Sardar Sarovar Project,” recalls Pawan. From thereon, his life and his mission have continued to revolve and evolve with the movement.

Pawan has witnessed hundreds of thousands of people, just like him and his community, whose land or houses are threatened by the Sardar Sarovar Project the $7.7 billion centrepieces of a project, over the river Narmada, to tap India’s fifth-largest river. Moreover, according to Pawan, rehabilitation in his state Madhya Pradesh has been particularly worse as compared other project-affected states, Maharashtra and Gujarat. “As compared to the thousands rehabilitated by Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh has rehabilitated hardly 50 families,” reveals Pawan.

Belonging to the indigenous, tribal community of the area, he feels the mainstream media is incapable of telling the story from the point of view of grassroots communities. “For the mainstream, a displacement story is based on numbers - how many displaced, rehabilitated, etc.,” he criticises.

Pawan stories at Video Volunteers highlight the daily struggle for basic amenities, the lack of rehabilitation due to the Sardar Sarovar Project and the lack of governmental aid for communities living in his corner of Madhya Pradesh, in a region bordering Rajasthan, which is ground zero for the movement. He also works closely with Medha Patkar, the founder member of the Narmada movement, helping with regional dissemination and awareness camps across Madhya Pradesh

Videos from Pawan

Displaced locals request for rehabilitation and compensation

/ September 28, 2022

The dam at Kothida, Bharud Pura, Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh took just a year to get a crack. More than 11 surrounding villages are at risk now due to this leakage and residents are asked to vacate the area.

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No End to Forced Evictions for Those Displaced by Sardar Sarovar

/ April 23, 2018

The Sardar Sarovar Dam has been in the news more than once for the large-scale displacement it has caused. But there is a lull in the media after rehabilitation is promised, says Community Correspondent Pawan Solanki, reporting on life after rehabilitation.

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Sardar Sarovar Project: The Tyranny of Forced Evictions

/ January 23, 2018

A farming community, threatened to be submerged by the Sardar Sarovar, is being forcefully evicted to relocate to a rocky piece of land. How will they rebuild their lives and livelihoods?

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To the Nation, With Love: The Gift of Displacement From the Sardar Sarovar Project

/ November 22, 2017

21 families displaced by submergence from the Sardar Sarovar Dam over a decade ago have been allocated land in a marsh to rebuild their lives.

Impact Story

MNREGA Finally Becomes Operational in Tribal Hamlet in MP

/ August 21, 2017

Community Correspondent Pawan Solanki helps his community in getting jobs and stopping distress migration.

Illegal Sand Mining Wreaking Havoc on the Banks of the Narmada

/ June 27, 2017

The brazen sand mafia was looting 300 tonnes of sand per day destroying the environment and ecosystem around the Narmada. Things have turned around with activists from the Narmada Bachao Andolan stepping in.

Narmada Jeevan Shalas Bring Hope for Children Affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project

/ May 29, 2017

Across banks of Narmada, Adivasi children can now count on Jeevan Shalas for a better future despite the government's failure to provide them with education.

A New Festival in Madhya Pradesh Revives a Lost Indigenous Culture

/ May 5, 2017

Thousands of people have gathered in Verwada, Badhwani to celebrate the newest festival in Madhya Pradesh - the festival of Rani Kajal Mata, an ancient, indigenous deity.