South Asia’s riverbeds are a site of conflict between the need for development and environmental protection. The region’s unprecedented urbanising construction boom has created a scramble for sand, and one of the primary sources for this newly valuable commodity is its vulnerable river systems, which provide both fresh water and ecological buffers to large populations. The Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) River Basin has been particularly affected by the search for sand sources. This multi-disciplinary, multi-sited project used innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to investigate sand mining in the GBM River Basin. This research project aimed to understand the political economy of riverine sand extraction in the GBM basin. It worked from extraction (mining), through transportation to consumption in urban sand markets. It adopted this commodity chain approach, not merely to study the trajectory of the sand, but to integrate the power and governance structure in each node of the trade. It seeked to understand the multiple socio-economic power relations that form around sand and discover the sites in which its impact on climate-change induced hazards could best be mitigated. This multi-method research project provided both in-depth ethnographic case studies of sand commodity chains at particular points in the GBM basin, a comparative analysis of these case studies, as well as a survey-based socio-economic analysis to better understand the role of sand mining in rural economies and livelihood strategies. This data furthermore framed in an environmental history narrative (Iqbal 2010) that traces the development of sand mining in the region, focusing on the steep increase in activity in the last few decades and tying it into broader trends in South Asian development and the unfolding Anthropocene.
Serial No: 215
Theme: Governance and Legal Issues
Research Method: Mixed method
Partner: The East Asia Study Center (EASC), Dhaka University
Starting Year: 2021
Study Area: Jamalpur, Narayanganj