Disjunct Realities: The Imaginaries of Mega-Infrastructure Projects


The Indian national government has been increasingly emphasizing the development and building of new infrastructure, since the late 1990s, especially focusing on urban regions. The latest push is an ambitious scheme that will link the country through air, road, rail, and sea and river ports. India is not the only country that is investing heavily in the development of mega-infrastructure however. Across Asia and Africa, there is a growing trend towards the development of megainfrastructure projects, the most prominent of these being the Belt-Road Initiative (Arakali and Koduganti, 2019; Ballard et al., 2017; Yu, 2017). The emergence of these megaprojects bring with them aspirations and imaginations of growth, which are not always translated on the ground as these projects get built and executed. Looking at two mega-infrastructure corridor projects that are at present in various stages of development, this paper focuses on how the plans for the megaprojects are being translated at the local level, by whom, and through what mechanisms. In particular, we look at how local and state authorities interpret national level plans, and how these are shaped by historical and place-specific factors. We focus on the Delhi-Mumbai and Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridors, and examine the outcomes on the ground, taking the case of specific sub-projects of both industrial corridors. This research draws on primary data collected through interviews, a review of plan documents and reports as well as a review of grey literature.