Water, Rules, and the Making of Connections in Mumbai
Essential resources, Anand argues, can be curtailed not only by the physical nature of the environmental infrastructure, but equally by human-made physical and social infrastructures. He analyzes the municipal water system of Mumbai originally built during English colonial rule and at the time supplying exclusively English settlers. Millions of slum dwellers living in Mumbai today are excluded from access as the plumbing does not reach their settlements and legal rules deny access to those unable to document settlement prior to 1995. To get around the constraints of plumbing and law settlers bargain with councilmen in return for their vote in municipal elections, negotiate with engineers, pool households able to pay for the supply of water, or turn to violence. Classifying resources as essential may help clarify the normative stake, but does not lead directly to institutionally operative solutions. As it turns out, even drinking water raises a host of complex issues that require a deep understanding of context specific social structures and power relations.
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