Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Latika Chaudhary

Reader 2

Nancy Neiman Auerbach

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Rights Information

© 2013 Evelyn Wong


This thesis examines the evaluation of the economic, environmental and social effects of dams, and lessons learned from previous dams. It then focuses on cost benefit analysis as a decision-making tool pre-project for evaluating the potential gains and losses of building a dam; and as a framework for evaluating dams in operation. It reviews the basic assumptions required for a legitimate cost benefit analysis, and the inherent limitations of this method. It uses the Sardar Sarovar dam as a case study for the use and abuse of cost benefit analysis in decision-making, interstate politics, propaganda and activism. It also illustrates the difficulties in dividing costs and benefits in an equitable manner at national, state, and grassroots levels.