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'They are All Set to Dam(n) Our Future': Contested Development through Hydel Power in Democratic Sikkim

Vibha Arora
Sociological Bulletin
Vol. 58, No. 1, Special Issue on Development of Democratic Routes in the Himalayan 'Borderlands' (January-April 2009), pp. 94-114
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23620837
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
'They are All Set to Dam(n) Our Future': Contested Development through Hydel Power in Democratic Sikkim
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Abstract

Dams have become political symbols of conquest of nature and representative of development of in India. Impervious to the widespread critique of development through hydraulic gigantism, the planners in Sikkim have identified cascade development of the perennial river waters of Rangit and Teesta as the channel for modernising and developing its economy. This rhetoric has become questionable after three Lepcha youth affiliated to the Affected Citizens of the Teesta and the Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim, with the support of the Sangha of Dzongu, began an indefinite relay hunger-strike on 20 June 2007 in Gangtok to pressurise the government into revoking the power projects planned on the Teesta. The Lepcha activists' banner proclaiming, 'In the name of development, do not make us refugees in our own homeland', challenges the rhetoric of dams and democratic development in Sikkim. This paper presents an analysis of the contested formulations and perceptions of public interest and participatory development in Sikkim in order to reiterate the need of not ignoring but integrating culture in any project planning.

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