The author analyses three aspects of the conflict over developing the waters of the Narmada:
- The politics of the inter-state river water dispute over Narmada waters in the context of Indian centre-state and inter-state relationships and the constitutional and legal mechanisms for resolving disputes among riparian states.
- The Narmada upstream-downstream politics implicit in the battle between downstream Gujarat and Rajasthan versus upstream Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
- The much-publicized struggle between those for and others against the construction of the gigantic Sardar Sarovar dam.
Given the highly contentious nature of these struggles, the author objectively highlights how and why the outcomes of such struggles have largely depended on the realities of power.