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CSAMES Brown Bag Lecture: "Water Grabbing in India: From Agrarian to Urban (GDP) Growth"

Event Type
brown bag
Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building, Urbana
Sep 10, 2013   12:00 - 1:00 pm  
Trevor Birkenholtz, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science
Originating Calendar
CSAMES events

The focus of Indian water development is shifting away from a post-independence emphasis on agrarian growth to a neoliberal emphasis on GDP-centered urban growth. This is reflected in recent five-year plans and in development donor agency recommendations and funding patterns, which focus on expanding and stabilizing urban water supplies. Yet most of India’s water, particularly in densely populated areas, is already allocated to irrigation. This paper examines the political-economic, technological and ecological processes of transferring agrarian water to urban spaces by drawing on a case from the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. It connects recent scholarship on ‘water grabbing’ with research on the politics of water infrastructure, to both explain this process and to explore what it means for irrigated agriculture and urban water access. Findings show that farmer livelihoods are under threat and agricultural productivity is in decline, while urban water supply is highly uneven and socially stratified. The conclusion draws into question the need for a supply-side solution to urban water scarcity.

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