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Dancing with the RiverPeople and Life on the Chars of South Asia$
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Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Gopa Samanta

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300188301

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300188301.001.0001

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Controlling the River to Free Up Land

Controlling the River to Free Up Land

Chapter:
(p.51) Chapter 3 Controlling the River to Free Up Land
Source:
Dancing with the River
Author(s):

James C. Scott

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300188301.003.0003

This chapter examines the colonial and postcolonial history to delineate the factors of char formation, and to substantiate the claim that chars are as much products of human intervention as they are of the ecology of Bengal. A large-scale char formation in the Damodar River occurred with the commencement of the formation of chars that stabilized over time rather than being flushed away during the monsoons. The BADA was designed primarily to protect the interests of the original owners and saw chouras as infiltrators. One aspect of this was the complexities in defining and regulating the relationship between landlords and tenants. Colonial land systems not only left their imprint on Bengali social and economic lives but also had far-reaching impacts on the ecology. Thus, what happened during the colonial period was critical to understanding the production of an environmental discourse that was also part of the Bengali milieu.

Keywords:   postcolonial history, char formation, Bengal, Damodar River, BADA, chouras, colonial land systems

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