Maheshwar Dam

The Maheshwar dam is part of the Narmada Valley Development Project in India. The Portuguese ECA COSEC planned to support the dam but withdrew after campaigning from Euronatura and others.

Maheshwar dam - history and current situation

The Maheshwar dam would leave 35,000 people homeless and destroy thousands of hectares of productive land. It was supposed to be India’s first privately financed dam, but the project lost international support in 2000 and the Indian government declared the construction company involved bankrupt. Although the dam is not officially and completely shelved, international financial support has dried up and contractors are caught in the Indian courts over inadequate resettlement packages and environmental precautions.





Maheshwar dam first planned

US power company Pacgen, German companies Bayernwerk and VEW Energie all drop the project

COSEC withdraws support for the dam

Dam 90% complete, proponents apply for permission to fill the reservoir

The Maheshwar Dam

Part of a much larger project that involves constructing 30 large and 135 medium-sized dams in the Narmada Valley, the Maheshwar dam has been planned since 1978. The dam is meant to provide 400 Megawatts of energy annually, but will also mean the resettlement of 35,000 people. A series of investigations from NGOs and government officials has confirmed that the dam will be hugely environmentally damaging, and that relocation, resettlement and compensation packages for the affected communities are woefully inadequate. Communities have not given their free, prior and informed consent to the dam.

ECAs and the Maheshwar dam

The World Bank encountered startling hostility when it was involved in financing the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river in the 1980s, which displaced more than a hundred thousand people. This  made the bank reluctant to fund the Maheshwar dam on the same river. Some ECAs, including Hermes and COSEC, considered stepping in to fund the Maheshwar dam, but huge opposition from local and international organisations has encouraged ECAs to steer clear.

COSEC was originally approached to guarantee a 46million euro loan to the multinational construction company ABB.

Recent developments

Despite the financing problems, the Maheshwar dam is 90% complete. In 2011 India’s High Court and the Ministry of Environment and Forests prohibited closure of the dam gates, but the construction company involved sought permission again in 2012 despite the fact that most of the 70,000 people living within the projected footprint of the reservoir have not been resettled.

More information

Friends of Narmada:

Urgewald briefing:




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