posted on Oct. 2: Opponent of Sardar Sarovar Dam (India) speaks at McMaster tonight


A key activist in the movement to oppose one of the world's largest river development projects is this year's Mahatma Gandhi lecturer.

Medha Patkar, a strategist with Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), will give the fifth Annual Mahatma Gandhi lecture on Non-violence at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Oct. 2) in JHE-376.

The NBA is a people's movement organized to stop the construction of a series of dams on the Narmada River, India's largest west-flowing river. Since 1985, Patkar and NBA have been holding peaceful marches and rallies to protest the Narmada Valley Development Project, in particular the building of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

The dam would submerge more than 37,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land and displace 320,000 people. Patkar, who has been beaten and arrested for her actions, also conducted a number of protest fasts during the early 1990s.

In 1991 the World Bank, which had sponsored the project, conducted an independent review of the dam and concluded that the project was ill-conceived. In 1994, NBA took the case to stop construction to India's Supreme Court.

Patkar is the recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize and the Right Livelihood Award (the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize). She will speak on Power to the People: Development Issues and People's Struggles on Gandhi's Land.