Make Way! The Kwari Story
Whose Resource: Asmita Kabra (School of Human Ecology, Ambedkar University Delhi)
‘Make Way! The Kwari story’ is the second film in the Make Way! Series. The series explores the nuances of displacement, resettlement and rehabilitation in the context of an Adivasi community that subsists on land-based livelihoods in a semi-arid district of Central India. The series will trace the complexities of resource use, resource access and livelihoodoutcomes using narratives that meander through three small rivers of the region – the Kuno, the Kwari and the Jhilmil.
“Make Way! The Kwari Story’ is shot in district Sheopur, in villages on the banks of the Kwari. This river originates in district Guna of Madhya Pradesh, India and eventually joins river Yamuna near Agra. In this film, we explore the micro politics around a proposed medium irrigation project on river Kwari. We show the complex workings of safeguard laws and policies when they are translated to practice in a landscape consisting of deep pre-existing political divides and fractures. We find that the broad outcomes of resettlement and the contours of people’s response to land acquisition are often
determined much before the acquisition process starts formally. This can make even the strongest of safeguard policies run into invisible roadblocks and become vulnerable to hijacking by vested interests.
The film is based on conversations with a variety of people likely to be affected by the proposed dam. It captures the fears and anxieties of villagers who are likely to lose their lands and livelihoods, and explores how their attempts at collective action to negotiate with the government evolved and then fizzled out. Through the cacophony of people’s voices, the film demonstrates the complexity of local resource politics among people and groups with heterogeneous and often conflicting interests and world views.