Dams, environment and political mobilisation in Assam

A major plumbing of the Brahmaputra and Barak river systems is planned through the construction of 168 large dams to generate 63,000 MW of electricity, even as the Northeast is slated to be India's ‘future powerhouse'. A significant part of the ongoing debate on the issue in the region has been the evolution of a discourse on the downstream impacts of these dams in the Brahmaputra and Barak floodplains, an issue which is still a major lacuna in governmental decision-making and governance processes in New Delhi (see The Hindu Survey of the Environment 2008 and 2009). The past one year has seen the crucial emergence of more widespread political mobilisation and debate on the issue of dams, environment and society in downstream Assam. In this piece we take stock of these recent developments on an issue which is likely to significantly influence both the natural and political landscape of the region in the coming days.

Full article can be read in The Hindu's Survey of the Environment 2010. The publication is now on stands. Copies can be obtained by Registered Post (not V.P.P.) for Rs.80 (Rupees Eighty) by drawing a cheque in favour of "Kasturi and Sons Ltd." (Add Rs.10 for non-Chennai cheques) and sending it to the Circulation Department, The Hindu, 859-860, Anna Salai, Chennai 600002 Email: subs@thehindu.co.in

Arupjyoti Saikia is a historian and closely follows the political and social movements in Assam. Neeraj Vagholikar is a member of the environmental Action group, Kalpavriksh.