Downstream of the Dam: Uses and meanings of water in the Sardar Sarovar project, Gujarat, India

21.06.2017: Vortrag Prof. Peter P. MOLLINGA

Mittwoch, 21. Juni 2017, 15 Uhr

Institut für Geographie und Regionalforschung

Universität Wien, Universitätsstr. 7/5, 1010 Wien, Konferenzraum


The highly controversial Sardar Sarovar dam in India is releasing water into the state of Gujarat since the early 2000s. While scholarship has extensively focused on upstream forest submergence and displacement, subsequent resettlement and rehabilitation, and social movements in relation to that, very little research has been done on the downstream use of water now the dam is built. Originally, primarily designed for the purpose of irrigated agriculture, with a ‘protective’ design concept stemming from colonial times, the water in the project has acquired new and significant meanings in its mobilisation for domestic water supply and for industrial development Beyond the immediate usages of water, the project plays a significant role in contouring Gujarat’s development ‘model’, in pursuit of an economic and political form of modernity with a strong neoliberal and nationalist flavour, while also acting as a vehicle for state-building, that is reshaping regional relations within the state. This lecture presents a preliminary sketch of this process and problematic.

Peter P. Mollinga ( was trained as an irrigation engineer at Wageningen University, the Netherlands; his PhD is on the political economy of irrigation water management in South India. He did his Habilitation in Development Sociology at the University of Bonn, Germany. He is presently Professor of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK. He is one of the three founding editors of Water Alternatives. An interdisciplinary journal on water, politics and development. His research fields are water governance & water politics, agrarian change and technology, and inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to natural resources management. His geographical focus is Asia, particularly South Asia and Central Asia.