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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 182-195

Dharmic projects, imperial reservoirs, and new temples of India: An historical perspective on dams in India

Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Correspondence Address:
Kathleen D Morrison
Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.73807

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As international attention continues to focus on large dam projects across Asia, it is worth noting that conflicts over the politics of and environmental changes caused by dams in India are not new. Population dislocation, siltation, disease, floods caused by catastrophic dam failure, raised water tables, high costs and low returns-all of these concerns, and others, can be discussed in the context of reservoir projects ten, one hundred, or even one thousand years old. In this paper, I identify some of the major issues in the political ecology of contemporary dam projects and show how these same issues have played out in southern India over the last thousand years, suggesting that historical attention to the cultural and political context of reservoir construction might help us to understand some aspects of contemporary conflicts.

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