In just 50 years a water-rich nation has been reduced to a water-insecure one. By 2025, the per capita availability of water is likely to slip below the critical mark of 1,000 cubic metres. And with 82% of our villages overdrawing groundwater to meet their needs and cities ferrying water from peri-urban areas, India is close to exhausting its groundwater reserves. What has gone wrong?
Inequities in water availability are a reflection of unequal development within the country. 13% of Delhi's citizens do not get water supply every day; 40% of households in Madhya Pradesh are not supplied even 40 litres per person per day. Even if we achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving the population without access to drinking water and sanitation by 2015, 244 million people in rural India and 90 million in urban India will still not have access to safe, sustainable water supply
An average room in a five-star hotel in Delhi consumes 1,600 litres of water every day. VIP residences consume over 30,000 litres per day. But 78% of Delhi's citizens, who live in sub-standard settlements, struggle to collect or buy 30-90 litres per capita per day
In Harijan Basti near Vasant Kunj, Delhi, Simla Devi pays Rs 20 per day for water siphoned off from Delhi Jal Board tankers. Roop Devi from Navjeevan Camp in Govindpur says those who can't afford to buy water secretly fill it up from Bhoomi Camp late at night
Daily wage-earners pay up to 20% of their wages on water; slum-dwellers pay Rs 5 per can of water; others tap into water lines illegally, or pay the local mafia for the supply...These are stories that illustrate the political economy of water that operates in the slums of Mumbai and Pune
Water reform is a Trojan horse utilised by governments, commercial interests and international aid agencies, to turn public resources into profitable enterprises. Today's water wars are sited in cities, not agrarian basins. They are being fought over the control of municipal water systems and services. This article looks at the political economy of public sector water utilities reform in Chennai
A Rs 600-crore tanker industry is capitalising on Chennai's acute water scarcity. Over 13,000 tankers are mining the surrounding farmlands for water. With agriculture in crisis and groundwater levels insufficient for farming, farmers find it easier to live off the money they earn from private water operators
Women in water-starved Bazargaon village in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, walk 15 km a day to fetch water. There is just one public well in this village of 3,000, and that is mostly dry. But the nearby water park, with ice-skating and 18 different kinds of water slides and games, has more water than Bazargaon can dream of
In the years following Independence, India's politicians and bureaucrats seemed to have become victims of what Nehru termed the disease of gigantism, building large dams as monuments to themselves. Four thousand large projects later, and despite huge gaps between promises and performance, that tendency continues, reflected in the recent plan to link India's rivers. How are these decisions to promote large dams taken? Who profits from them and who pays?