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Accepted Paper:

Politics of Energy Transition and Disasters In Uttarakhand Himalaya  
Shruti Jain Bhupen Singh (Uttarakhand Open University, India)

Paper short abstract:

Analyzing the role of hydropower projects in creating the crises of 2021 flash floods and 2022-23 sinking of Joshimath town in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand Himalaya, India, the paper will discuss how these projects are detrimental to social and ecological justice, based on people's voices.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing from doctoral and post doctoral field work of several years in the state of Uttarakhand in India, the paper will bring in people's responses to the hydropower projects promoted as part of energy transition policy of the India in the Himalayan state. The questions that people were raising regarding these projects have become sharper and more urgent given the series of disasters in the Chamoli district, in the Joshimath region, also known for the Chipko movement.

The paper will discuss how the damages brought upon by the February 2021 flash floods, and 2022-2023 sinking of Joshimath town and the neighboring villages are associated with the construction practices of the hydro projects, thus, raising questions about the implications of these projects for social and ecological justice. In addition to such disasters, the impacts are visible in multiple ways, including depopulation trends, dwindling agricultural produces and water shortages, and thus, there have been consistent protests against the projects.

The paper will explore, through examining villagers' Court petitions, field interactions and press coverage, the basis of their protests and questions that they raise about their rights, projects' accountability and the dominant notions of development and environment that become a basis of promotion of these projects in the Himalaya. It will discuss how the expert opinions and villagers’ concerns get obliterated by the project proponents, while also denying them their right to know of the causes of crises they are facing, and that often gets relegated to climate change, and as natural disaster.

Panel P40
Just energy transitions from the ground up. Decoloniality and renewable energy transitions
  Session 2 Thursday 29 June, 2023, -