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University of Oslo (UiO) (2010)

Technocratic dreams and troublesome beneficiaries the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project in Gujarat

Aandahl, Guro

Titre : Technocratic dreams and troublesome beneficiaries the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project in Gujarat

Auteur : Aandahl, Guro

Université de soutenance : University of Oslo (UiO)

Grade : Doctoral Thesis 2010

The dissertation is in three parts, and ends with a concluding chapter drawing the lines from the different parts together. Part One, Water, dams and development : From TVA to WCD, frames the study and provides necessary background information on the Sardar Sarovar Project and the conflict it caused.
Chapter 2 provides a historical perspective on hydraulic engineering and its role in development. This chapter sets the stage for the subsequent analysis by presenting and discussing how dams and other human interventions in the flow of rivers have been understood, and how this has changed over the course of the twentieth century with a communitarian and environmental turn taking place in the 1980s, whereby the technological optimism of the age of modernisation was seriously challenged. Chapter 3 presents the hydrological landscape of Gujarat, a predominantly semi-arid and arid region of India. Droughts have been recurring phenomena in Gujarat, in colonial and pre-colonial times frequently leading to famines. The chapter briefly presents the different irrigation technologies that have been used in the region since early pre-colonial times, and the colonial and post-colonial irrigation policies.
Chapter 4 outlines the history of the Sardar Sarovar Project from the inception of the idea of damming the Narmada to the years after the cancellation of the World Bank loan. It describes the major events in the project leading up to the Award of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal in 1979, the rising opposition to the project in the 1980s and 1990s, and the financial impacts of the cancellation of the World Bank loan. Chapter 5 situates the Sardar Sarovar Project and the Narmada conflict in the international debate about big dams, and presents in more detail than Chapter 2 the arguments of the anti-dam movement. The chapter furthermore presents the approaches and conclusions of the existing academic scholarship on the Narmada, which has focused almost exclusively on the opposition to the dam and the issue of displacement. Chapter 6 concludes Part One with an outline of the methodology applied in this study.
Part Two, The Sardar Sarovar Project and changing ideas of development, is an analysis of the ideas and perspectives of the planners of the Sardar Sarovar Project, as they are revealed in and between the lines of the texts they wrote, and in interviews with me. Chapter 7 presents the hegemonic development ideas of large parts of the twentieth century : development as state-led industrialisation and modernisation, and the challenges to this development approach from the 1970s onwards. Chapter 8 is an analysis of the plans and planning approach of the Sardar Sarovar Project, and how it was influenced by the growing strength of the opposition movement and the changing conceptions of „development‟. It ends with a discussion of the role of ideas versus vested interests in policy making.
In Part Three, Implementation and the politics beyond planning, I follow the Sardar Sarovar canals and the Narmada water to the villages. I explore the politics beyond planning through a case study of two villages in Central Gujarat, one in a backward region of the command area, and another outside the command area but nevertheless benefiting through illegal siphoning of canal water and the recharge of groundwater. In Chapter 9, I present the two case villages through a brief discussion of the question of the question “does irrigation trickle down ?” Chapter 10 explores the reception of the SSP in the command area, and Chapter 11 discusses the reasons for the problems experienced in implementing the project. Chapter 12 adds complexity to the implementation issue by exploring water as a political and unwieldy resource in a village that is collectively „stealing‟ Narmada water from the Main Canal. The Conclusion summarises and concludes the dissertation

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