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Academic Papers
in Water, Policy, Survival

Private appropriation of resource: Impact of peri-urban farmers selling water to Chennai Metropolita

In this paper we illustrate the socio-economic dynamics of peri-urban zones of Indian Metropolitan cities, which are at the heart of the current urban liberalisation. For this, we study the impact of the water purchasing agreement the Metropolitan water board signed with some farmers of peri-urban areas of Chennai (formerly Madras). Acute water shortage in Chennai and subsequent recourse to outer-bound underground water put the peri-urban as well as rural areas under increasing polarisation by the city, and achieved a systemic integration with it: as a consequence, the local regime of access of water radically changes in peripheral rural areas, which serves as our entry point. We contextualise some specifics of peri-urban areas in India, and identify four issues of urban economic governance or urban functions on which peri-urban areas can particularly shed light. Then we briefly recall the water scenario in Chennai and describe the ‘‘tripartite agreement’’. We then analyse the changes in agricultural practices and land-use patterns, the related income divergence, and alteration of socio-economic structure. Then we show that extraction of groundwater from agricultural fields, to be sold to the CMWSSB, in charge of the city water supply, de facto creates private property rights for the farmers who can extract and sell water.

Author(s): Joel Ruet, Marie Gambiez and Emilie Lacour

Publication: Cities, Vol. 24, No. 2, p. 110–121

Date: 2007

Country: India

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