Socio-economic transformations of Sardar Sarovar project-affected indigenous populations and post-colonial development state

Sutapa Chattopadhyay


The Tadvi Adivasi narratives succinctly underscore the imprudence and insanity of Indian federal and state governments in sanctioning the construction of large-scale development projects' such as the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). Dam development is a part of a wider neoliberal project that create capitalist relations and technologies in different forms of economy and modes of livelihood contributing to the process of global primitive accumulation. The expansion of the creation of the global proletariat is facilitated by dismantling customary relations to land, forests, water. The fact that many dams are constructed where marginalized populations exist holding tenuous relations to the environment may not coincide. For capitalism to survive and expand, there not only has to be an increase in capital accumulation sometimes taking the form of technological infrastructure (large dams) but there also has to be 'free labor', a group of people who have no ties to any subsistence base and limited or no alternative to working for wages. An analysis of Tadvi stories and my field observations highlight the limited livelihood opportunities and the socio-political changes Adivasis' are experiencing, in their rehabilitated villages, which has an enormous impact on their everyday lives and future generations. In hindsight, the eminent dislocation and resettlement accentuate the post-colonial Indian state's ideological explanations towards the need for large-scale development, it's unwillingness to assume accountability, it's flimsy commitments to the environment, it's partial and limited interpretations of sustainability, and it's complete lack of responsibility towards excluding millions of populations from their livelihoods.

Keywords: post-colonial development state, accumulation, environmental sustainability, Adivasi populations, lifestyle changes

JEL Code- Q01, Q56, O15