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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Knowledge, Nature, and Nationalism: The Upper Karnali Dam in Nepal

  • Author(s): Butler, Christopher John
  • Advisor(s): Crow, Ben
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

This dissertation is a critical examination of the activity and politics surrounding the Upper Karnali Hydroelectricity Project (UKH) in western Nepal. Though Nepal has 6,000 rivers, the rural parts of the country are largely without electricity while load shedding prevails in the urban areas up to 12-14 hours per day in the dry season. Against this backdrop, UKH occupies a unique space as Nepal’s first mega-project. Debate rages over how UKH should be employed to generate development in Nepal: Should it be used to produce electricity for domestic use or to export the power to India to generate badly-needed state revenue? Contributing to the debate is the presence of UKH’s constructor: the GMR Consortium, an India-based infrastructure developer. The debate around GMR and its intentions has laid bare many long-running tensions between Nepal and India around the topic of water and Nepali sovereignty, in general.

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