Journal Article


The Manufacture of Popular Perceptions of Scarcity: Dams and Water-Related Narratives in Gujarat, India

Published on 1 January 2001

This paper critically examines some narratives of water scarcity in Kutch, western India. It argues that images of dwindling rainfall and increasing drought largely serve to legitimize the controversial Sardar Sarovar dam and manufacture dominant perceptions concerning scarcity. This manufacture has naturalized scarcity in the region and largely benefits powerful actors such as politicians, industrialists and large farmers. But the needs of the poor in water-limited areas are neglected. By exploring the various connotations of scarcity, the paper argues that scarcity is both a biophysical phenomenon as well as a powerful discursive construct. By distinguishing between the “real” and “manufactured” aspects of water scarcity, the paper attempts to enhance understandings of environmental change at the local level.


Lyla Mehta

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

Mehta, L
World Development, volume 29, issue 12


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