Tag Archives: Sardar Sarovar Project

The Gaze of the Developmental State and the Narmada Action Plans: Ashwin V.S

Guest Post by ASHWIN V.S


Jal Satyagraha in Narmada valley 2013

The years following the Second World War were characterized by a renewed focus on the ‘Modernization’ of nation-states. While the constant feature of the post-war years was the high-stakes rivalry and arms race between the USA and the USSR; both tread a common ground as regards high-modernization and ‘development’. ‘Development’ fuelled growth was considered a panacea to all ills and soon became dominant across the post-colonial world. WW Rostow’s The Stages of Economic Growth was a significant work which argued for five stages of growth in which “traditional societies” could transform themselves into the “age of high mass-consumption”. It was no wonder therefore as to which nation-states were characterized as ‘traditional’ under this rubric and pushed towards ‘development’.

A standard feature of ‘development’ in India has been the showcasing of large scale industrial and apparently ‘public purpose’ projects; an instance of this is seen in the construction of large dams. As much as ‘modernization’ or ‘development’ can be witnessed through the industrial or ‘public’ projects themselves; the ambition of the ‘developmental state’ and its vision can certainly be understood through the one-constant feature of the bureaucratic machinery – paperwork.

Therefore, for the purposes of this essay, I attempt to evaluate the ambition of the post-colonial ‘developmental state’ in India by analyzing the language of a few planning documents. In this case, I consider the Narmada Valley Development Authority’s (NVDAs) Action Plans prepared in the years 1991, 1993, 1995 and 2000 for the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) of Sardar Sarovar Project ‘oustees’ in Madhya Pradesh. These Documents are revealing in aspects of the modern state’s enterprise and it’s most significant undertaking, planning.

The State’s gaze and legibility:

James Scott’s magnificent work Seeing Like a State characterizes a crucial difference between the pre-modern state and the modern state: while the former “was in many crucial respects, partially blind” and “knew precious little about its subjects”, the modern state is consumed by a desire to know. Armed with statistics and other tools of ‘accuracy’, the modern state stakes its claim to the accurate depiction of the social world, which it then tries to alter in accordance to its designs of ‘development’. Continue reading The Gaze of the Developmental State and the Narmada Action Plans: Ashwin V.S

NBA Welcomes SC Dismissal of MP Govt Application Denying Right to Land to Sardar Sarovar Oustees

We are publishing below the text of a statement issued by the NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN in New Delhi today following a significant Supreme Court order on the rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar oustees

In a significant Order, the Social Justice Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Jst. Madan Lokur and Jst. Uday Umesh Lalit today dismissed an Application filed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) / Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) seeking a ‘modification / clarification’ of the Apex Court’s previous judgements of 2000 and 2005, thereby denying right to land of a few thousand adult sons of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) affected farmers.

The Hon’ble Court held among other things that the Application by State of MP suffers from gross delay / laches having being filed many years after the judgements were issued (upholding the right to land of the SSP adult sons) and the rights / entitlements already accrued to the oustees in principle cannot be taken away. The Bench also had to take note of the fact that while the entitlement of most of the adult sons have already been recognized many many years ago, one set of oustees have been offered land / Special Rehabilitation Package (5.5. lakhs for 5 acres) since the judgement of 15/3/2005 of the Apex Court and another set of oustees are being denied the same; this would result in a clear violation of Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees a fundamental right to equality. Terming this “not to be good governance”, the Court summarily dismissed the Application.   Continue reading NBA Welcomes SC Dismissal of MP Govt Application Denying Right to Land to Sardar Sarovar Oustees

Long Years Ago We Made a Tryst, with…Mathematics

I thought it wasn’t that complicated. When you make a new nation, make sure everybody gets a place. A roughly equal place. When you undertake any development in that new nation, make sure the benefits equal the costs. These are easy equations, easy maths. Maa-tha-maa-tics, my school maths teacher would say portentously, full of meaning and threatening.

This summer, quietly, safe from the media’s attention, 17 more metres were added to the biggest dam of the Sardar Sarovar Project, a dam that was already 400-plus metres high. Being ‘weak at maths’, I hesitate to calculate the catchment area of this big big dam, only one of many big dams in the web of waterworks created by the Sardar Sarovar project. I am getting goosebumps writing these words – the Sardar Sarovar project. As I did way back in school, as a fifteen-year old with a mind like an occupation zone for textbooks. Nehru’s photo radiates in waves out from that mind, that iconic Bhakra Nangal photo with him pointing to something in the far distance. The blazing sun, the deep shadows, the monumental respectability of it all…now the photo is fused with a different, equally iconic image – that of Sunil Dutt’s youthful strides across a dam site in Hum Hindustani. Continue reading Long Years Ago We Made a Tryst, with…Mathematics