World History

Farakka row: Time to shelve colonial reductionist engineering, explore Chinese model

As such, the Government of Pakistan and, after 1971, the Government of Bangladesh had been critical of the project as it was apprehended that by enhancing the flow into Bhagirathi-Hooghly, the barrage would reduce the dry season flow of the Ganges/Padma into Bangladesh. In fact, the voices within Indian technocracy, who opposed the project from the perspective of sheer sustainability, like the ones of Mr. Kapil Bhattacharya, were singled out and marginalised. As such, even today, the construction of the Farakka Barrage has been historically the most crucial factor affecting the India-Bangladesh hydro-political relations and the perceptions of transboundary environmental issues.

The Farakka Barrage stands as a classic example of the constructionist thinking based on the reductionist engineering paradigm that looked at short-term economic benefits, ignored the long-term sustainability concerns, and created the ‘metabolic rift’ between human and nature. This paradigm, promoted by the British colonial legacy, was also formalised under colonial capitalism in South Asia. This reductionist knowledge of water management spread across engineering colleges in India over time. This “half-baked” reductionism keeps on dominating Indian water engineering scenario even after Independence, and has created situations of enhanced damages, livelihoods losses and eventually conflicts at both international and inter-state transboundary levels.

About the author

Amit Singh

Leave a Comment