Birds don't give a Dam: The politics of Hydropower Development and Wildlife Conservation in Arunachal Pradesh

  • Author / Creator
  • Over the last decade, Arunachal Pradesh, or the larger region known as Northeast Himalayas, has not only become a potential energy frontier to meet India’s surging energy demands, but an opportunity for those in the state seeking political and financial independence. Dams are celebrated and endorsed as a ‘clean” and “renewable” energy sources that ensure sustainable development, and politicians and major corporations are making promises of great economic benefits and job opportunities arising from these projects. However, rapid development, lack of appropriate consultation, and the deficiencies of environmental and social impact assessment have provoked political and social debates in the region. Simultaneously, since the region is known to be biodiversity rich and geographically fragile, the impacts of the developmental activities has raised concerns among wildlife biologists, ecologists and experts regarding the potential negative impacts on ecology, economy, and society. In this discourse of energy development, deteriorating ecosystem integrity, and heightened vulnerability, Arunachal Pradesh is increasingly being represented as a place of economic opportunities for both region and nation, but also of risks and vulnerabilities. In this setting, there is also resistance and negotiation, and interactions between various forces that are shaping a new social-environmental relationship. In this paper, focusing on one community, the Monpas, who are the largest ethnic group in the region, and the case study of Nyamjang Chhu hydropower project, I discuss how different stakeholders such as developers, conservationists, and religious institutions deploy narratives of change, articulate their respective claims over resources, developmental plans and conservation ideas; the power relations within and between these different stakeholders, and explore how the Monpas respond to and negotiate with these dominant perspectives.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-11:Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Anthropology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Nuttall, Mark (Anthropology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Parkins John (Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology)
    • Zivkovic Marko (Anthropology)
    • Nuttall Mark (Anthropology)
    • Forth, Gregory (Anthropology)