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Ithaca College

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

India: Sustainable Development and Social Change

Abstract

Since time immemorial, the Lepcha people have called the Himalayan region that makes up the modern state of Sikkim their home and have held sacred the rivers, mountains, and forests that make up the biologically diverse region. Over the past two decades, India’s rapid development has generated a powerful thirst for electricity, and the country has increasingly looked to the cold, powerful rivers thundering from the Himalayas to supply that desired power. Hydroelectric projects have been proposed and implemented throughout the Himalayan region. Nowhere, however, are the dams as numerous or their effects as acutely felt as in India’s northwestern state of Sikkim, where a ‘cascade’ of run‐of‐the‐river hydroelectric projects is springing into existence. There, on the Teesta River, multiple dam projects threaten the rich biodiversity of the region, the livelihoods of those who live along the Teesta’s course, and the very existence of the Lepcha people’s most cherished river. Through documentary film, this project examines three crucial and oftoverlooked repercussions of hydroelectric projects on the Teesta River: the threat posed to the endangered Golden Masheer fish, the problems faced by those who receive compensation from the National Hydroelectric Power Cooperation for damages caused by dam development, and the degradation wrought upon the Lepcha people’s cultural identity. The film does so by examining the individual stories of stakeholders who feel the effects of these ramifications most severely. Through formal and informal interviews with stakeholders and experts alike, this film offers a holistic perspective of and draws awareness to the river as the region’s pulsing lifeline. Additionally, the project sheds light on the reasons India has turned so fervently to hydroelectric development. Finally, the film looks to the future in an attempt to spur dialogue among Indians and interested parties around the globe.

Disciplines

Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agricultural Economics | Agriculture | Aquaculture and Fisheries | Asian Studies | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Film and Media Studies | Natural Resource Economics | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Sustainability

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