Relocation on Country to County Scales

1.The Narmada Valley Dam Projects

This case study from the University of Michigan focuses on the large hydroelectric project along the Narmada River in India. The government is pushing the project to develop its natural resources for it’s social needs such as electricity, transportation, and water supply. By constructing over 3,000 dams, the project also must relocate over 1.5 million people.1 This project has been in construction since the 1960s but has been intermittently paused when relocation efforts were doubted by those effected. The study recommends the government review social and environmental impacts as well as find energy alternatives using previously established departments. Although the government strives to improve their energy resources, they disregard large rural populations that depended on monsoon flooding for their rich soils and in turn the agricultural and forestry resources that will be devastated by implementation of dams as water management.

  2. Zambia’s Gwembe Tonga Relocation

This case study looks at a large group of development refugees that were relocated after dam construction on the Zambezi River to examine the effects government policies on relocation have over time. The findings show several negative attributes of environmental developments, such as the number of refugees of civil war and border disputes are similar to those of development projects. Citing many similarities between political and development refugees, the case reports resettlement of land needing to be regarded as a dynamic process.2 Different stages need to be developed to recognize that it is not a temporary settlement for these people and needs to regard future generations. The Gwembe Tonga People moved to separate countries (one native- Zambia, and one adjacent-Zambawe) that enabled a comparative view of the same people in different refugee settlements.

 3. Pine Grove Truck Ramp Relocation             Pine Grove, Pennsylvania

After a horrible accident that cost a life when a truck lost it’s break coming down Pine Grove Mountain, the local government rallied to implement a truck ramp half way down the Centre County side. The idea of a ramp was highly sought by the public as well for safety, however the actual ramp placement has proven useless (truck lost its breaks after the ramp shortly after the ramps construction) as well as increasing poor water drainage and forced relocation of the nearest residences. This local example of environmental development relates to the other two cases in the “environmental bad” of necessary relocations. Although on a smaller scale than the international cases, they all show how those of less power generally are outspoken by those with more power (in these cases: the government). Looking at these cases we can observe the need to assess a larger scale of impact on the human-environment systems at play within the site of development as to not disregard better alternatives to the common goal.


  1. Nisha Kapadia. “India’s Greatest Planned Environmental Disaster: The Narmada Valley Dam Projects.” University of Michigan. February 24, 2016.
  2. T. Scudder. “Development-induced Relocation and Refugee Studies: 37 Years of Change and Continuity among Zambia’s Gwembe Tonga.” University of Oxford. 10 March 1993.

2 thoughts on “Relocation on Country to County Scales

  1. Hi! My name is Julie and here is the link to my blog:
    My blog also included the first case study about the Narmada River in India. However, mine was slightly different because I related mine to economic justice.
    I found your blog specifically interesting when you talked about the relationship between the smaller scale and larger scale examples. I agree with you completely that the common people are often outspoken by the government even when it may not be for the better such as these examples of development.

  2. Hey! My name is Katy. Your post caught my eye since you also wrote about hydropower dams. In my post, I wrote about El Nino weather pattern and the effects of the hydropower dam build in the Theun River in central Laos. You can read my post here, Similarly, in both cases people have been displaced from the dam project. However, the impacts were an afterthought for the hydropower dam in the Theun River.

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