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Accepted Paper:

Where is the ‘Waste’land?: Appropriation and territorialisation for green energy transition in Rajasthan, India  
Nisha Paliwal (IIT Jodhpur)

Paper Short Abstract:

The global transition towards green energy in Global South endangers the ecological significance of sacred groves (Orans), wrongly labelled as 'wastelands,'. This paper challenges the colonial construction of ‘wastelands’ that are framed around development logic at the cost of ecological balance.

Paper Abstract:

In recent years, the Global South has witnessed an acute land rush for large-scale renewable energy projects advanced by the aspirations of fostering national identity through technological and scientific progress. In an attempt to achieve India’s target of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel-based energy by 2030 set at the COP26, sacred groves known as Orans in Rajasthan are taking the brunt of global climate change mitigation efforts. The ‘(un)making of space’ and the private takeover of Orans in Rajasthan by green energy projects is advocated by development logics framed around wasteland narratives encouraged by the conceptualisation of renewables as ‘green’ and ‘clean’ that overlooks the exploitative potential of the energy transition and its impact on local livelihood and community. Orans, dedicated to a folk deity, are rich repositories of bio-genetic diversity warehouses consisting of endemic, endangered and medicinal plants supported by a traditional ecological knowledge system. This ecological understanding emerges from the recognition of dependency on water and vegetation that gravely contributes to the livestock-based economy and is hallowed by a set of established rules and regulations that govern their management forming a significant reserve of grazing/pasture land for the pastoralist community.

Grounding the research in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, an ethnographic approach has been employed to challenge the colonial construction of Orans as ‘wastelands’ in the Revenue Land Record that creates new paradigms for capitalist ventures on a socially and environmentally agreeable basis by appropriating and commodifying elements of nature on previously unexplored territories in the Global South.

Panel OP190
Enabling just ecological transitions: mobilising sacred knowledges and cosmologies to address polycrisis
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -