Arundhati Hakhu


Buoyant (Be)Longing

Bouyant (Be)Longing is a speculative project that seeks to develop a sustainable and an all-inclusive approach towards rehabilitation of persons affected by the filling up of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. It challenges the exclusionary nature of activities that are thickly veiled by the cover of ‘development’, by going beyond the idea of looking at rehabilitation in terms of numbers. The project focuses primarily on the restoration of the community and the sense of belongingness within the residents of Nisarpur, who have been forced out of their homes due to repeated submergence since the inauguration of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Here, the body of water which had once displaced the residents itself becomes a facilitator of community living and the well-being of all.

View Additional Work

Report Content

The comic strip shows the journey of seepage within my home over a course of 20 years. It shows us how as a reaction to the general public’s careless attitudes towards water due to its abundance, the water resources turn against the residents, and into what pop culture often calls ‘the good guys gone bad’. These ‘water goons’, all part of a very discretly functioning gang led by Deerthana Devi, are hellbent on making people’s lives miserable.

Cope-bhavan seeks to help establish a new dynamic between seepage and the residents of the house by exploring the possibility of the peaceful coexistence of people with their seepage-affected surroundings. After having imagined the possible impacts of a seepageless home, the project creates an alternate scenario where seepage is not viewed as a nuisance but is thought of as a resource that contributes to the creation of an outdoor space of solitude within the household itself.

This sheet draws out a comparative study of three major waterfront development projects in Ahmedabad: the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project (2005), the Vastrapur Lake Development Project (2002), and the Kankaria Lakefront Development project (2008), and familiarises the viewer with the spatial patterns of eviction and resettlement. By representing areas within easy access to the resettlement sites on foot or on cycles using circles, the drawing throws light on the large-scale exclusion of those resettled in allotted sites, from the city centre. This exclusion, often looked at as 'collateral damage' incurred over the course of achieving a 'greater good', is actually what leads to the further impoverishment of the already impoverished.

While the authorities lure the residents into leaving their homes with promises of owning their own houses in a nearby locality, these authorities often fail to deliver, allotting the uprooted sub-par houses with poorer, often more expensive facilities, in localities located in the fringes of the city.

The Sardar Sarovar Dam promised to combat regional level disparities in water supply but today is itself responsible for the displacement of over 200,000 people across more than 200 villages of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Nisarpur is one of the 179 affected villages of Madhya Pradesh alone, with over 8000 affected people.

Over the past years, the backwaters of Narmada river and its surrounding land have undergone continuous transitions. Prior to the inauguration of the Sardar Sarovar dam in 2017, these transitions were sparse and less erratic in nature. Post 2017, after the dam was filled to its full capacity at a level of 138.68 m, it can be seen that erratic transformations of the water body occur at very frequent intervals of time. As a result of this, many if not all parts of villages like Nisarpur are under constant threat of submergence.

The project creates a visual impact by acting as a rebellion against all development activities that ignore the plight of the native habitants and cater majorly to the desires of the already privileged. It does this by virtue of its size, population density, and location.

The height of the floating structure increases as the water levels increase.

The new community taps the potentials of the abundant water supply.