For the last three years, locals in Marwah town of the Jammu region have been protesting the planned construction of a dam under
the Bursar hydroelectric project, a storage scheme with an installed capacity of 800 MW on Marusudar, a tributary of the Chenab river.
Approved in 2000 by the Indian government, the Bursar dam – the first major hydropower dam in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir – was given the “National Project” status on Aug. 4, 2016, by the Ministry of Water Resources.
In 2017, an environmental impact assessment report on the project compiled by experts from Kashmir University stated that the dam would affect over a thousand families in 18 villages and result in the flooding of over 1,149 hectares of forest land.
Locals said the report sparked controversy and resulted in weekly protests against the dam in Marwah’s Nawapachi village. Later, youth from different villages came together to start the Save Marwah Movement, which since 2018 has been at the forefront of the anti-dam resistance in the region.
In March last year, locals began a hunger strike against the project, but all protests were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The movement, however, continues.
The video story gives a glimpse of how the Save Marwah Movement leaders spearhead the resistance.