The Politics of Sanitation in India,Cities Services and the State -Susan E. Chaplin

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The Polities of Sanitation in India examines how the environmental
problems confronting Indian cities
have arisen and subsequently forced
millions of people to live in illegal
settlements that lack adequate
sanitation, and other basio urban
services. This has occurred because
of two factors. The first is the legacy
of the colonial city characterised by
inequitable access to sanitation
services, a failure to manage urban
growth and the proliferation of slums,
and the inadequate funding of urban
governments. The second is the
nature of the post-colonial state,
which, instead of being an instrument
for socio-economic change, has been
dominated by coalitions of interests
accommodated by the use of public
funds to provide private goods.
The result is that the middle class has
been able to monopolise what sanitation
services the state has provided because
the urban poor, despite their political
participation, have not been able to
exert sufficient pressure to force
governments to effectively implement
policies designed to improve their living
conditions. The consequence is that
public health and environmental policies
have frequently become exercises in
crisis intervention instead of being
preventive measures which benefit the
health and well-being of the whole
urban population.These issues are explored by examining the history of colonial and post-independence urban development and management in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, and analysing why these cities have failed to provide equitable access to sanitation services for all residents.SUSAN E. CHAPLIN is a researcher based in Melbourne, Australia, who has been interested in environmental and urban development issues in India for more than 15 years.
As India’s cities are at the forefront of the engagement with the global economy, they now generate 60 per cent of national income and attract large numbers of migrants from rural areas as well as urban centres.By 2001, India’s urban population had reached 285 million (projected to be 368 million by 2012), with most of this growth being concentrated in the metropolitan cities. This has brought about a rapid spatial expansion
of cities which has placed increasing pressures on grossly inadequate
sanitation infrastructures and services. But, as the gap between the supply
and demand of sanitation and other basic services widens, the inequity in
their provision places an even greater burden upon the urban poor who
often live in illegal and insanitary settlements. In 2004, these deficiencies
in urban services meant that that 21 per cent of urban dwellers living in
slums and squatter settlements had extremely poor access to basic services
such as water, sanitation and waste management. While 89 per cent of
the urban population is reported as having access to safe drinking water,
there are questions about the reliability of this data and the equitability of distribution.

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