D.C. Sah
18Sardar Sarovar Project is one of India’s most ambitiously designed engineering projects. It is also world’s most controversial developmental project. While its proponents call it a marvel and see in it a strategy that will enable India meet her growing needs for water, electricity and wage goods, its opponents call it a destructive and uneconomical project that has overestimated its benefits and underestimated its cost, especially cost of relocation and rehabilitation (R&R). This book assumes significance because it is one of the first documentations of the second-generation problems of rehabilitation of the project affected people (PAPs).
This book aims to unravel what is not apparent in the R&R process. It succeeds partly in unearthing some of the risks associated with involuntary migration but many more have still remained hidden. Based on carefully planned fieldwork for over seven years, the book reveals that though the relocation of over 4,500 PAPs from 19 submerging villages of Gujarat to over 125 new sites had been achieved, their rehabilitation has not started yet. The involuntary migration created incompatible forces that disregarded civil society’s equity and justice norms. Not so much because of a failed policy but more because of exclusions and marginalisation originating on account of insubstantial interactions among state, civil society and the community. The success of R&R will depend on how this interface is re-established. In absence of this, it will be difficult to avoid either impoverishment risks or judicial activism.The book will be of interest to activists, environmentalists, policy makers and students of development studies