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Putting the Citizen at the Heart of Water Management: A Study of Water in Bangalore

Bijani, Yasmin

The focus of this thesis is the innovative process by which citizens in Bangalore, India have become engaged with the problem of water management through rainwater harvesting. Bangalore currently faces a water shortage of 500 million liters per day and, unless it dramatically changes its approach, acute water shortage by 2025. An effective water management scheme in Bangalore requires institutional restructuring to enable integrated management of water resources, strong legislation to protect groundwater, major infrastructural improvements to limit leakage, a shift in planning culture that more explicitly recognizes the link between the natural world and human settlements and stronger integration of science in planning. It is clear that any one of these actions is not easily implementable in the near term due to institutional, financial, and political challenges. In the absence of any near-term solutions for the water crisis, civil society has played a critical role in pushing the local water authority to make rainwater harvesting mandatory through the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage (Amendment) Act, 2009. This thesis aims to add to two larger theoretical discussions: governing the commons and finding innovative solutions and processes for resource management. Governing the commons, especially in the dynamic context of rapidly growing cities that face systemic scarcity, requires a strong state to effectively restrict wasteful practices and mining of resources and a strong civil society to curb demand. As such, the scarcity-induced innovation framework (Srinivas and Sutz, 2008) has been applied to identify rainwater harvesting as an innovative approach to engage citizens in the heart of water management and curb demand. Rainwater harvesting is not presented here as a panacea, nor is it meant to distract from the need for the state to play a much stronger regulatory and implementation role.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Srinivas, Smita
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2012