Another Dam Development Project? Development-forced Displacement and Resettlement in Nepal

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: In Nepal, dams have been targeted as the most viable means of energy generation. However, dam projects often necessitate the relocation and resettlement of people to make way for reservoirs; processes that may pose great challenges for affected people, given that their homes, land, and livelihoods are lost to some extent. This thesis analyzes the challenges facing the Nepali state in ensuring that hydropower development projects become instrumental to social justice and development for all, including displaced populations. Secondly, it contributes to ongoing research debates on developmentforced displacement and resettlement (DFDR) through a critical discussion of the applicability of DFDR research in countries like Nepal, characterized by weak state regulatory capacity and social disparities. By reviewing academic studies and conducting interviews with Nepali civil society activists, government-connected people and water resource specialists, it was found that DFDR research has had very little influence on resettlement practices in Nepal. The reason may be that DFDR mechanisms are too dependent on functioning state institutions, and on entrenched Western democratic ideals such as inclusiveness, participation, recognition, and justice. The findings suggest that DFDR research may need to pay closer attention to specific socio-political issues such as social exclusion and state capacity, and perhaps it might even be useful to interrogate how “development” can be achieved differently.

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