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

Published on 1 December 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 legitimise 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.

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Mehta, Lyla


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