Skip to main content

Shripad and Nandini’s Papers of the Narmada Struggle

Identifier: MS-027

Scope and Contents

Shripad and Nandini’s papers of the Narmada Struggle are arranged into five series. These are

Writ Petition 319/1994 Writ Petition 328/2002 Resettlement and Rehabilitation cases and inter-state water dispute cases Publications and Public Outreach Correspondence

The bulk of the documentation pertains to the case Narmada Bachao Andolan vs Union of India and Others i.e. Writ Petition 319/1994. Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan argued the case on behalf of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Prashant Bhushan sent the case files to the two activists of the struggle for human rights connected to the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project, Nandini Oza and Shripad Dharmadhikary. Shripad Dharmadhikary was one of the main persons who had been handling the case on behalf of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. He worked closely with Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan over the years that the matter was in the Court, attended almost every hearing, and also signed many of the affidavits and submissions on behalf of NBA. The litigation primarily pertains to: the continued construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river,resulting in the petitioners' case for the violation of  Right to Life of the affected people  which is a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution, its severe adverse impacts on the environment, and clearances from the Ministries concerned, such as the Ministry for Environment and Forests, and clearances from the Ministries concerned, such as the Ministry for Environment and Forests. In the course of proceedings, this also evolved into a consideration of how environmental impact assessment of this project and projects of a similar nature must be made. Secondly, the case related to the requirement for proper and meaningful resettlement and rehabilitation of people displaced by the inundation area of the construction of the dam and related canals, from the four states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This includes a consideration of what meaningful rehabilitation looked like for persons displaced from their agricultural lands to uncultivable or different soil environments; including questions regarding the welfare of tribal communities in keeping with their traditions and customs and sense of community; and for families who shifted or were required to shift to another state. The constitution of the Grievance Redressal Authority and cases decided by that tribunal can be found in this series under sub-series 12 as well as subsequent series.

The case proceedings took the form of Public Interest Litigation and commenced in 1994, but references are frequently found to the history of the dam construction and impacts, as well as technical considerations regarding concrete dam construction. This includes the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award from 1979, which settled disputes as to the allocation of water between the four states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and approved the construction of 30 major, 135 medium, and 3000 small dams, and included permission for raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Similarly, references to the World Bank and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan agreements, and reports such as the Morse Commission’s report that analysed the feasibility and progress of construction for the Sardar Sarovar Project formed part of the exhibits in the case. The case proceeded from 1994 to 2000, with the final judgment of the Supreme Court given in October 18, 2000, upholding the initial permissions granted by the NWDT Award, although permission to restart construction was granted via interim order in 1999 by the Supreme Court. These judgments and orders are included as part of court registry documents, in sub-series 14 of the first series.

Sub-series 11 of series 1 offers, through the framework of litigation for contempt of court, a view into the commentary and activism of Medha Patkar, Arundhati Roy and the members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, which was sought to be restricted as prejudicial to the ongoing litigation. Various affidavits from government functionaries in Gujarat pertaining to the publicity of Sardar Sarovar Project are also included. The cancellation of funding from the World Bank, the stay on further construction of the dam from 1994-1999 while the matter of raising the height of the dam was sub-judice, and the formulation of the Grievance Redressal Agency in order to fairly decide matters related to resettlement and rehabilitation of Project-Affected Families (PAFs), constitute important results of the work of the Narmada Bachao Andolan

The second series consists of materials related to the Writ Petition 328/2002. The documents in this series are categorized into sub-series: Interim Applications, Registrar documents, and finally, correspondence regarding the petition. Interim Applications also include affidavits, rejoinder affidavits, reply to rejoinders and records of proceedings from the Supreme Court of India. Registrar documents are office reports, filing indices, filing memos, etc.

The third series is on Resettlement and Rehabilitation Cases and Inter-State Water Disputes. The cases included here are divided into different sub-series. Sub-series 1 is the Special Leave Petition 6014/94; sub-series 2 is the Special Leave Petition 8035/1999; sub-series 3 is Civil Suit 1/1999. sub-series 4 is a Writ Petition of 2001, sub-series 5 is a Writ Petition of 2002, sub-series 6 is a Writ Petition of 2006, while sub-series 7 will contain Writ Petition 128/2006 Upendra Baxi vs Union of India, sub-series 8, the Special Leave Petition 5720/2009 and sub-series 9, various documents related to Sardar Sarovar Project cases. The publicity material for raising awareness about the dam and the project also forms part of this collection, as part of series 4, ‘publication and publicity material’, comprising booklets, media clippings, notices and pamphlets and open memorandums. This material is in multiple languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and English works. The fifth series is Correspondence. This series is arranged into subseries decade-wise, with 1980-1989 forming the first sub-series, 1990-1999 the second series and 2000-2009 forming the final sub-series.


  • Creation: 1978 - 2008

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for access unless mentioned in specific folders

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright may not have been assigned to Archives, National Centre for Biological Sciences. Permission for reproduction or distribution must be obtained in writing from the Archives at NCBS ( The Archives at NCBS makes no representation that it is the copyright owner in all of its collections. The user must obtain all necessary rights and clearances before use of material and material may only be reproduced for academic and non-commercial use.

Biographical / Historical

Nandini Oza is a oral historian who was an activist with the Narmada Bachao Andolan from 1990 to 2001. She chaired the Oral History Association of India from 2020-22 and has been involved in documenting the histories of key members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, many among them affected by the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Project and local leaders. She is also a writer, her work includes books such as, 'Whither Justice - Stories of Women in Prison' (Rupa, 2002) and ‘The Struggle for Narmada: An Oral History of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, by Adivasi Leaders Keshavbhau and Kevalsingh Vasave’ (Orient BlackSwan, 2022). This book has also been published in Marathi by Rajhans Prakashan (2017) and in Hindi by Rajkamal Prakashan (2023).

Shripad Dharmadhikary is an engineering graduate who for 13 years was an activist with the Narmada Bachao Andolan from 1988 to 2001. He has been a board member of Greenpeace India and a visitor at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford. Thereafter he founded the policy-research organisation, ‘Manthan Adhyayan Kendra’ that examines issues related to water and energy resources.

Prashant Bhushan is an Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India. He is a public interest litigator, and has been involved with the push for judicial transparency (such as through the Committee on Judicial Activism). Some key cases he has worked on include seeking criminal liability for the Bhopal Gas tragedy, the Narmada Bachao Andolan case, challenging the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), the 2G Spectrum allocation case, the coal block allocations case etc. He is known to have participated in the India Against Corruption Movement and was part of the founders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is a mass public movement and run by activists from Adivasi and rural backgrounds, human rights activists and environmentalists, local NGOs and grassroot organisations from affected villages in four states (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) against the large dam projects undertaken or contemplated to be undertaken on the Narmada river. The movement started with the focal point being the Sardar Sarovar Project and the key leaders of the movement in this region included Medha Patkar and Baba Amte, with writer, Arundhati Roy, also being a supporter of the movement.

The Sardar Sarovar Project is a large dam infrastructure project undertaken at Kevadia, in Narmada district, in the state of Gujarat. It constitutes part of the Narmada Project to distribute water to 4 states viz. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Inaugurated in 1961, construction began in 1985 but was stayed by the Supreme Court in 1995 as it adjudicated the public interest litigation against the project and the displacement of people without adequate rehabilitation. The project re-commenced post the verdict of the Supreme Court in 2000-01 with caps on the height of the dam, and the dam became operational in 2017. The construction and the subsequent changes in the river ecosystem caused the displacement of many persons in the submergence including those belonging to tribal backgrounds, and the permanent inundation of houses, village buildings, temple premises, cultivable land and community land as well as forested areas. As per Government estimates cited in the course of court proceedings, this number was initially held to be 41,500 families, while independent assessment by Nandini Oza in the course of her Oral History Narmada project states that, ‘over 2,50,000 people are to be displaced in the 245 submergence villages by the Sardar Sarovar Project and an equal number to be severely impacted due to project-related infrastructure.’ The resettlement and rehabilitation of these people (referred to as Project-Affected Persons) in a fair and just manner, upon land that could support their livelihoods, formed a crucial component of the public interest litigation in Narmada Bachao Andolan v. Union of India as well as subsequent proceedings.


15 Linear Feet (30 Hollinger style archive-boxes and 3 oversized items)

Language of Materials



The intellectual arrangement strives to preserve provenance and original order of the papers. Where an original order could not be found, the Archives has applied an order, and folders within sub-series are arranged usually in chronological or alphabetical order. See Scope and Content section for details.

Physical Location

Archives at NCBS

Shripad and Nandini’s papers of the Narmada Struggle
In Progress
Sravya Darbhamulla
October 3, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives at NCBS Repository

National Centre for Biological Sciences - Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Bangalore Karnataka 560065 India
+9180 6717 6010
+9180 6717 6011