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Socio-economic transformations of Sardar Sarovar project-affected indigenous populations and post-colonial development state


  • Chattopadhyay, Sutapa

    () (UNU-MERIT, and Maastricht University)


The Tadvi Adivasi narratives succinctly underscore the imprudence and insanity of Indian federal and state governments in sanctioning the construction of large-scale development projects' such as the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). Dam development is a part of a wider neoliberal project that create capitalist relations and technologies in different forms of economy and modes of livelihood contributing to the process of global primitive accumulation. The expansion of the creation of the global proletariat is facilitated by dismantling customary relations to land, forests, water. The fact that many dams are constructed where marginalized populations exist holding tenuous relations to the environment may not coincide. For capitalism to survive and expand, there not only has to be an increase in capital accumulation sometimes taking the form of technological infrastructure (large dams) but there also has to be 'free labor', a group of people who have no ties to any subsistence base and limited or no alternative to working for wages. An analysis of Tadvi stories and my field observations highlight the limited livelihood opportunities and the socio-political changes Adivasis' are experiencing, in their rehabilitated villages, which has an enormous impact on their everyday lives and future generations. In hindsight, the eminent dislocation and resettlement accentuate the post-colonial Indian state's ideological explanations towards the need for large-scale development, it's unwillingness to assume accountability, it's flimsy commitments to the environment, it's partial and limited interpretations of sustainability, and it's complete lack of responsibility towards excluding millions of populations from their livelihoods.

Suggested Citation

  • Chattopadhyay, Sutapa, 2011. "Socio-economic transformations of Sardar Sarovar project-affected indigenous populations and post-colonial development state," MERIT Working Papers 072, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2011072

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    post-colonial development state; accumulation; environmental sustainability; Adivasi populations; lifestyle changes;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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