Know your Neta: Achievement, Career, work, awards and personal life – Everything about Medha Patkar

By on February 16, 2014

Medha Patkar (born 1 December 1954) is an Indian social activist. She is engaged in non-violent struggle for equity, justice and better India. She is founder member of Narmada Bachao Andolan. She would be contesting Lok Sabha Polls 2014 from North-East Mumbai as an Aam Aadmi Party Candidate.She has also filed a public interest petition in the Bombay High Court against Lavasa along with other members of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), including Anna Hazare

Early and personal life

Medha Patkar was born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India in a Kudaldeshkar family to Indu and Vasant Khanolkar, a trade union leader and freedom fighter. Medha was raised by two politically and socially active parents. Her father fought in the India’s independence movement and later helped with the organizational efforts of the trade union. Medha’s mother was a member of a women’s organization named Swadar. Swadar was set up to help and assist women who were suffering difficult circumstances stemming from financial, educational, and health related problems. Medha’s mother and her father’s activism played a major role in shaping her philosophical views. She was brought up politically and socially active family environment, which helped her in understanding the problems of people. After earning a M.A. in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Medha began working with voluntary organizations in Bombay for five years. Following this voluntary work in Bombay she also worked with voluntary organizations in tribal districts of East Gujarat for two years. Medha then earned a position on the faculty at her alma mater the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. While back at Tata Institute Medha Patkar began working on her Ph.D.


Narmada Bachao Andolan

In 1979 the Sardar Sarovar Project in particular and the Narmada Valley Development Project as a whole, in which called for 30 major, 135 medium, and 3,000 small dams, were granted approval for construction by India’s Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal(NWDT). In 1955, India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, has been widely quoted for calling dams the “temples of modern India”. Yet, it is pointed out decades later by Medha Patkar, Nehru in 1958 described the dams as “a disease of gigantism’ that we must withdraw from”. In 1985, Medha Patkar along with her colleagues visited the project site. They found it was being shelved by Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India. The primary concern of Medha Patkar was about the people living in that area. She noticed that the people living there had no information about the project. The second factor was regarding Rehabilitation. In 1986, Medha and her colleagues organized a long march from Madhya Pradesh to the dam site. The thirty-six day march would be a symbol of solidarity among the neighboring states of Narmada Valley as well as a direct challenge to the government and the World Bank. In 1989 Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), was formed in order to provide the residents in the Narmada Valley with access to important project information, and legal representation. After years of opposition, protests, and fasting, Medha and everyone working with her were able to get the World Bank to withdraw its endorsement of the Sardar Sarovar Project in 1993. Same time India’s government announced it would increase its financial assistance to the project. Later Narmada Bachao Andolan office was attacked by some politically motivated people in 1994, where they were physically assaulted and verbally abused. Author Jacques Leslie devoted a third of his book, Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005), to a portrait of Patkar as she planned to drown herself in rising reservoir waters behind the Sardar Sarovar Dam, against whose construction she fought for two decades. On 28th March, 2006, Medha went on a hunger strike, in protest of the decision taken by the authorities, to increase the height of the Narmada dam. The strike continued for a long period of 20 days and finally came to an end on April 17, 2006. The Supreme Court rejected the plea of Narmada Bachao Andolan to stop the construction of the damThe Madhya Pradesh Government alleged the Narmada Bachao Andolan of receiving foreign funds and using them for unclear purposes. They claimed that, the money that was obtained was being used by the organization to hamper the rehabilitation process.



Lavasa is a lavish project by Hindustan Construction Corporation, in Maharashtra. It is a yet-to be completed city. This was in news because of Political corruption, environment damage, land acquisition, usage of water resources, etc. Medha Patkar could not resist environmental damage. She filed a PIL-Public Interest Litigation in Supreme Court against the Lavasa project.

Jan Lokpal Andolan

Medha Patkar openly supported the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare. In support of Jan Lokpal bill the renowned social activist said, “If the Congress is in a suicidal mood on this issue, what can anyone do for it?”

Political career

On Jan 13, 2014 she decided to lend her full support to the Aam Aadmi Party, a political party, led by Arvind Kejriwal, which has vowed to fight corruption at grassroots level in India.

Awards and honors

  • 1991: Right Livelihood Award
  • 1999: M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award from Vigil India Movement
  • 1999: Deena Nath Mangeshkar Award
  • Mahatma Phule Award
  • Goldman Environment Prize
  • Green Ribbon Award for Best International Political Campaigner by BBC
  • Human Rights Defender’s Award from Amnesty International

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: