Accepted paper:

Between national interest and peoples' right: hydro-power and ethnicity in 'Federal' Nepal


Mukta Lama (Tribhuvan University)

Paper short abstract:

Hydroelectricity projects are proliferating in Nepal. They have also become focus of public protest and legal dispute for negative environmental and social impact. This paper analyses contestation between national interest and peoples’ right in the context of neo-liberal expansion in the Himalaya.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, hydroelectricity projects are proliferating in Nepal. The government of Nepal and private sector argue that hydropower development is critical to combat severe power shortage and build basis for economic growth. They see downstream rivers in the mid hills mostly flowing from Himalayan range as major local resources. Given the increasingly positive state policies and demand for electricity, interest in investing in hydropower development from both domestic and foreign investors is booming. While many of the hydropower projects are being justified on the ground of economic development or national interest and pride, their environmental and social impact have not been adequately understood. Extractive nature of private investment, in the absence of transparent benefit sharing mechanism at the local level emerged as a issue of contention. As a result, hydroelectricity projects in Nepal have become center of legal dispute and public protest. Based on study of Chilime and Melung hydroelectricity projects located at Nepal-China corridor of Kyirung valley, this paper analyses dynamics surrounding national interest and peoples' right in the context of neo-liberal expansion in the Himalayan region.

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