As India moves ahead on its path of planned and not so planned urbanisation it augers well to understand, reflect and question the various ramifications. With growing population and urbanisation the extreme stress on resources, especially water, is thrown into sharp contrast against the very process that water helps create – urbanity. This is an attempt to understand the natural and anthropogenic implications of the urban water cycle and its criticality in the effective management of water in the present and future. Optimisation of water availability and its management is a high priority area but even more important in prospering cities like the NCT of Delhi where governments, municipal authorities or a good majority of people can buy their way out of the water crisis. And in being able to do so, cities like Delhi threaten not just their own ecologies but also that of the surroundings regions, towns and villages.
Water as a dwindling resource needs urgent attention, not only in corrective laws and policy but also in people’s imagination. The direction of all government action has been at augmenting supply, never at demand management. None of the Bills or Acts have sought to deal with the inequity and inequality inherent in the very conceptualisation of water both at the societal as well as the individual level. The discussion looks at problematising the ‘idea’ of water and raises questions around the politics that subverts water governance. It touches upon questions of social differences, accessibility and use. The discussion rests on the speaker’s research in one of Delhi’s urban villages falling in the south-central ridge. It attempts to understand the nexus between knowledge and power that works towards the acceptability of certain phenomenon and situations
Supriya Singh has recently submitted her thesis for a PhD on Politics of Water in Delhi. Prior to this she worked extensively on resource management issues as a researcher and policy advocate. She also works on climate change awareness and advocacy and is seeking to work on climate resilience.