Environmental Trap
The Ganges River Diversion, Bangladeshi
Migration & Conflicts in India

By Ashok Swain
May 1996
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 91-506-1145-3
137 pages, Illustrated, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2"
$32.50 Paper Original

Environmental destruction, besides being the immediate factor in fueling competition over natural resources, can also potentially lead to loss of source of living, which may result in the population migration. In this study, an attempt has been made to develop a conceptual framework of conceivable social conflicts that are more likely to develop in an environmental migration induced scarcity situation. In order to test some of the ideas of the framework, a case study was conducted in South Asia. Since 1975, India is diverting most of the dry season flow of the Ganges River at Farakka Barrage to one of her internal rivers for her own development. It has caused various environmental problems in the south-western part of Bangladesh and led to loss of the sources of living of a large number of populations. These environmentally displaced Muslims in Bangladesh are migrating to Hindu dominated India from the late 1970s and it has culminated in a number of native-migrant conflicts in the receiving society. According to the findings of the case study, a powerful state may be able to cause serious environmental destruction on the others' territories for its own short-term development, but that does not mean that it can stay out of the spectrum of that reverberation. The possibility of environmental migration from the environmentally destroyed region may trap the powerful state in a troublesome situation.

Environmental History
Uppsala University Department of Peace & Conflict Research, Report No. 41

Return to Coronet Books main page