Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Workshop on water justice issues in South Asia

Dr. Vishal Narain presented his paper “Whose land? Whose water? Water rights, access and justice in a periurban context” at a workshop on water justice issues in South Asia organized by Wageningen University, the Netherlands and SOPPECOM, Pune in Pune from April 18 to 22, 2011.  Drawing on his research in Budheda and Sadhraana villages, he drew attention to how current patterns of urbanization created patterns of water use and access that were inequitable. Drawing on his work in Sadhraana and Budheda villages, he explained how current urbanization processes take shape by drawing upon water and land resources from the peripheral villages. Most urban expansion takes place by acquiring land from the peripheral villages; since water rights are tied to land rights, acquisition of land implies loss of access to water sources as well. Besides, urban elite are able to move into the peripheral areas and extract water using expensive water extraction technologies not affordable by locals, because of which local residents are unable to access water. Thus, current policies for urban expansion and the current legal and institutional framework for groundwater access together conspire to create a pattern of water use that is inequitable.

Dr. Narain emphasized that since urbanization would be an important trend in South Asia in the years to come, and much of this growth takes place in periurban locations, water justice issues in periurban contexts constitute a ripe area for water justice research in the region. This theme was later indeed taken up – following subsequent discussions in the workshop – as a major theme for water justice research in South Asia – by the workshop organizers. 

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