ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Small Hydropower Development in Himachal Pradesh

An Analysis of Socioecological Effects

This article tries to understand Himachal Pradesh's experience with promoting privatised small hydropower development. Based on field research conducted in 2012 on all completed small hydropower projects in the state, it examines the implementation of Himachal Pradesh's small hydropower policy and highlights the local social and environmental impacts of small hydropower development. The vast majority of small hydropower projects have generated unmitigated negative effects; employment generation, while significant, is mostly temporary, and uncompensated deaths from construction-related accidents are especially worrying. Insights from this study provide the basis for proposing concrete steps that together could help small run-of-the-river hydropower projects realise their purported, but not realised, benefits.

This research was supported by a senior research fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies and by sabbatical leave from Humboldt State University, California, US. Research assistants Kesar Singh and Praveen Bhardwaj provided exemplary support throughout the fi eld research. Institutional affi liation was provided by Himachal Pradesh University. This research would not have been possible without the support of the state of Himachal Pradesh Revenue and Power Departments, the willingness of independent power producers to allow site visits, and the willingness of local village residents to share their perceptions and experiences of small hydropower development in their communities.

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