Created with no budget or film crew, Drowned Out tells the story of the Jalsindhi villagers in central India, and their struggle to prevent the destruction of their land as well as their own displacement. The Jalsindhi are Adivasis – the original inhabitants of India – who have farmed their land by the Narmada River for at least 12 generations.
The Narmada Valley Development Project, the single largest river development scheme in India and one of the largest hydroelectric projects in the world, aims to build more than 3,000 large and small dams on the Narmada river, displacing hundreds of thousands and severely effecting over one million people; among them, the Jalsindhi.
The Adivasis are faced with three choices today: move to a government resettlement site with salty drinking water and infertile land; accept paltry cash compensation and head for a big city slum; or stay at home and drown. Closely connected to the land, they have chosen the latter.
When Franny Armstrong first began making the film, they explained to her how each of these options would eventually lead to their grave; and that “if they had to die, they would rather it was with dignity and on their own terms.”
The documentary follows in detail their protests, gatherings, and their attempts to stop the building of the dam by taking the case to the Supreme Court.
Despite their protests, construction of the dam continues. The village is slowly disappearing under the water..
Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most.