Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South
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Research Handbook on Law, Environment and the Global South

Edited by Philippe Cullet and Sujith Koonan

This comprehensive Research Handbook offers an innovative analysis of environmental law in the global South and contributes to an important reassessment of some of its major underlying concepts. The Research Handbook discusses areas rarely prioritized in environmental law, such as land rights, and underlines how these intersect with issues including poverty, livelihoods and the use of natural resources, challenging familiar narratives around development and sustainability in this context and providing new insights into environmental justice.
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Chapter 19: Dams and displacement: the case of the Sardar Sarovar Project, India

Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly

Abstract

India has adopted a techno-managerial model of water resource planning and management, wherein dam technology has occupied the centre stage. In this given model, shifts are observed in the role of the state, which call for deeper examination. In the discourse of development through dams, ‘national interest’ and ‘cost bearing/suffering’, that is, development induced displacement in the name of the national interest, took centre stage from 1948. This chapter analyses the evolving debates on development, dams and displacement through the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) as a case study of water resources and management, traces debates and discourses by various different stakeholders and the history of SSP, studies shifts in the development discourse especially related to the Narmada Bachao Andolan’s advocacy, maps legal-judicial initiatives and interpretations, views on cost-benefit analysis of SSP, capturing the politics of water, and needs and aspirations of citizens, including both the displaced population and the beneficiaries.

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