Local Economic Development and Hydropower Along the Brahmaputra River Basin in Northeast India

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Allison Mock, UC Santa Cruz HSSI Program, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
Large dams have long been controversial. They offer benefits, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy security, and local development, yet produce negative social and ecological impact, such as wildlife habitat destruction, human displacement, and the disruption of downstream fishing or agricultural industries. In the past decade, the Indian government has signed Memoranda of Understanding with hydroelectric power companies for the building of over 130 large dams on the Brahmaputra River in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. These dams can generate 43% of India’s assessed hydropower potential to sustain India’s growing economy. In addition, the Indian government claims that these dams will bring local development with needed jobs. However, local Arunachali people have protested and temporarily halted hydropower projects because of the impact of dams on their existing livelihoods.

Using the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation’s (NEEPCO) Ranganadi Hydroelectric Project as a case study, our project examined whether dams in Northeast India provide jobs for local people, and whether distance from the dam or work colony to a worker's hometown affects the type of job the worker received. Survey data from residents at NEEPCO’s work colony in Doimukh, Arunachal Pradesh, was analyzed using SPSS (n = 18). Our research found that 100% of workers at the dam originally resided in Northeast India, with 33% from Arunachal Pradesh, and 67% from the nearby states of Assam, and Tripura. Further, our analysis revealed no statistically significant relationship between the distance to a worker’s hometown and job type (p = .609). Where workers come from did not affect the type of job they received. More research using a larger sample size and additional hydroelectric project case studies is needed to further explore the relationship between worker home location and their job types.