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

Cashless and Landless: Tribal oustees of Narmada worry about their future

/ June 20, 2016

The Sardar Sarovar Dam has displaced over 41,000 families from the banks of Narmada across Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, since 1985. The Sardar Sarovar Punarvasvat Agency (SSPA) was constituted in 1992, for implementing the Resettlement and Rehabilitation for affected families, but little action has been taken to offer the...

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A Thirsty Hamlet at the Banks of the Narmada

/ April 26, 2017

The Sardar Sarovar Project displaced over 70,000 people for the 'greater good' of providing water and electricity to huge swathes of the population. But these grand promises are belied by the condition of the children suffering from waterborne diseases on the banks of the dammed river.

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Rural Pensioners of India Get a Raw Deal

/ March 8, 2017

Indian society prides itself on respecting elders, but the old-age pension hardly translates that respect into help.

Forest Rights denied to Indigenous Forest Dwellers

/ March 6, 2017

 “We won’t leave the forest, even if it meant that you kill us.”This is what the people belonging to an indigenous tribal community in Bhadal village of Badwani told outsiders as they entered their forest with axes and spades to whittle Sal trees. The entire village of Bhadal came together...

Narmada Oustees Cry Foul over Administration’s Non-Compliance to Laws

/ October 26, 2016

Over 900 people living on the banks of Narmada in Madhya Pradesh are seeking justice for being driven from their ancestral lands for the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) project. The residents of Belkheda village in Badwani district, Madhya Pradesh had their land submerged in 2000 with promises of rehabilitation, land...

Displacement in the name of Development on the Banks of Narmada

/ October 20, 2016

  The 110 families of Kumhars (brickmakers) living on the banks of Narmada in Madhya Pradesh are worried as life as they knew it for generations, will end soon. “My home and our brick kiln land will be submerged by the Sardar Sarovar dam,” says Om Prakash Prajapati, a Kumhar...

450 people cheated of Rehabilitation benefits

/ April 18, 2016

Fifty-four families of Amlali village of Barwani in Madhya Pradesh were rehabilitated in 2011. But none of these families have been given basic facilities to ensure that they can live in comfort. These settlements have been made along hills where water can enter the houses in times of rain. There...

No ration reaches the border

/ January 21, 2016

Bhadal village has not received ration since past 5 months. This problem has persisted for years. Villagers often have to finally resort to pleading to the District Collector, for which they have to travel 80 KMs. Damaged crops due to low rainfall have worsened the situation this year. The community...