ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Drinking Water

Confronting the Elephant in the Room

More than three decades of reforms in Kerala’s drinking water sector have neither resulted in greater decision-making autonomy nor improved the fi nancial status of public utility. In addition to stymying the devolution of responsibility to local bodies, reforms have critically unsettled the role of the state leading to erosion of institutional capacity in public utility. The greater prominence of non-state players combined with institutional denuding of the state points to an emergent crisis of democratic accountability in the governance of this sector.

Wealth and Waste

While instances of resource over-appropriation are in evidence in different settings globally, the error of a narrow tragedy of the commons analysis is to assume an original natural state of open access to resources. In all social forms, humans have created institutions to restrict individual access to resources so that they may be preserved for collective benefit. Tragedies of the commons occur when such collective institutions are undermined and individuals lose the sense that their long-term interests in resource preservation are being assured. The case of Gujarat's fishery presents one such instance where development overlooked local institutions that may have been able to restrict resource over-exploitation by fishers.

Water: Charting a Course for the Future - I

Water has suddenly become a favoured subject for seminars and conferences all over the world. A common trend in most of the discussions is to proceed from projections of demand to supply-side solutions in the form of 'water resource development' projects; estimate the massive investment funds needed; take note of the severe limitations on the availability of financial resources with governments; point to private sector investment as the answer; and stress the need for policy change to facilitate this. In India, consciousness of the importance of the subject led to the appointment of the first National Commission on water, which submitted its report in September 1999. This paper attempts to provide a broad and compendious account of the state of affairs in India as far as water resources are concerned and to chart a course for the future.

Drinking Water as a Fundamental Right

The recent landmark judgment by the Supreme Court, placing drinking water as a fundamental right should serve as a stern warning to the politician-bureaucrat nexus who have in recent years turned a blind eye to the growing pollution of Indian rivers. That the court too has sided with the people, and should help in initiating a debate on a crucial issue that has serious implications for the continued health and well-being of most citizens.