The question of India’s energy security, and by extension growth and national development, has been addressed in recent years through extensive power sector reforms organised around the modalities of privatisation and deregulation. Such policies have incentivised the entry of independent power producers as important stakeholders in the energy sector and helped establish a specific convergence between two arenas: that is, the linking of energy security imperatives with the commercialisation of natural resources and development projects. Based on empirical research in India’s northeastern Himalayan region, this paper reviews the country’s hydroelectric power policies, their recent implementation methods and the range of socio-economic and ecological concerns that have surfaced through anti-dam movements in response to hydroelectric power projects (HEPs). This paper suggests that the instances of socioeconomic dislocations and ecological hazards ensuing from development projects like the HEPs, specifically given the existence of statemandated counter-mechanisms to prevent such problems, are not cases of “implementation gaps”, but rather are manifestations of a deeper crisis in the policy framework that has prioritised the commercialisation of resources and privatisation of mega-projects to achieve energy security.
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