Contested since 1990, the Arun-3 dam in Nepal has so far generated more heat than hydropower involving a host of complex negotiations between its advocates and critics on the local, national and transnational levels. Cancelled after a complaint before the World Bank Inspection Panel in 1995, work is soon to be resumed. An Indian public sector company interested in exporting the electricity to India will finance it. This paper focuses on how local communities have experienced the decade-long uncertainties concerning the project and the approach road to be built. Their hopes of access to markets, electrification and a modern lifestyle will be explored in the context of an understanding of development as a desiring machine and governmentality studies. I will argue for a parallel application of the two approaches to conceptualize the entanglement of desires for development and a deep sense of local powerlessness vis-a-vis external actors.
Keywords: Nepal; hydropower; development; governmentality; desire