Politicizations of a Sacred River

The Story of Gaumukh-Uttarkashi Eco-Sensitive Zone, Uttarakhand, India

  • Flore Lafaye de Micheaux University of Lausanne
Keywords: political ecology of water, hydrosocial approach, ontology, mésologie, Ganges River

Abstract

The Gaumukh-Uttarkashi Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) conservation perimeter in the Himalayan Garhwal region was gazetted in December 2012. However, this was only one moment in a tense and twisted political process, which began in 2004, between pro-dam and anti-dam coalitions. The sacredness of this holy source of the Ganges played a role in the political fate of this decision, along with conflicting perspectives defended by hydropower proponents versus environmentalists or state versus central governments. Some of the actors’ motivations and political strategies derived from the formulation of a different ontology of the river, in which the river and humans are intrinsically connected or share an internal relation. The effects of this mobilization were volatile in the ESZ process but the ontological dimension of the conflict has had ramifications on later politics and policies. This case highlights the interest of bringing insights from political ontology into the political ecology of water.

Author Biography

Flore Lafaye de Micheaux, University of Lausanne

Flore Lafaye de Micheaux, Institute of Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne. Switzerland.

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Published
2019-09-04
How to Cite
Lafaye de Micheaux, F. (2019). Politicizations of a Sacred River. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 13(2), 181-207. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.36737
Section
Special Issue: Mountains and Sacred Landscapes