ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Privatisation of Water and Governance Failure

Privatizing Water: Governance Failure and the World's Urban Water Crisis by Karen Bakker (Orient Black Swan: New Delhi), 2011; pp 297, Rs 695.

Water being the basic necessity of human beings, its supply to the urban poor assumes significance in any national economy. Most developing economies have failed to provide potable drinking water to their citizens, thereby adversely affecting their health and incomes despite the fact that there are huge allocations made to these items in their budgets.1 In fact, 20% of the world’s urban poor live in India in 3%-5% of spatial area without adequate drinking water, which is the most important reason for low human development.2 As a matter of fact, the Government of India has failed miserably in ensuring the supply of drinking water to the poor, let alone basic civic amenities for all.3 Given the multidimensionality of poverty and three basic vulnerabilities, viz, residential, occupational and social, which the poor face, it is essential for the government to ensure the supply of drinking water as it alone can ensure equity in the distribution of resources to all, including for the marginalised sections of society. Therefore, one can argue that the failure of governance is the subject matter of discussion today and needs to be rectified immediately.

The book under review has two parts and seven chapters. The first part deals with the privatisation debate in the context of the urban water crisis, whereas the second part discusses issues beyond privatisation and debates alternatives. The number of urban people without access to safe drinking water continues to grow as rapid urbanisation continues in many parts of the world. The world’s water crisis is thus an urban issue.

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