UK Tour 2015!  One Date Only – September 2nd Exeter University

Catch me for one date only in an exclusive appearance for RGS-IBG at Exeter University.  September 2nd, 14.40 Forum Seminar Room 2.  I’ll be talking about this:

Underground water: techno-political ecology in ‘unauthorised’ Delhi
Like many of India’s fastest growing cities, groundwater use in peri-urban, unplanned areas of Delhi is extensive and weakly regulated. ‘Unauthorised’ neighbourhoods rely on groundwater and North Indian aquifers are being depleted at some of the fastest rates in the world (Shah 2013).

Public water supply in these areas remains an area of blurred mandates, impressionistic diagnostics and ad hoc inadequate provision, often compounded by rent-seeking and political calculation. The minimal service through tubewells and tankers allows a greater discretionary role for elected representatives, while deferring the cost of providing treated ‘piped’ water and passing it to consumers forced to rely on expensive ‘informal’ supply through tankers, tubewell networks, and ‘local’ bottled water. This ‘underground political ecology’ of water, both sub-soil and illicit, is under-explored in research to date (Bebbington 2012, Rohilla 2012, Maria 2009, Narain 2011a).

While water infrastructures here are in a constant process of modification, the main change residents have seen over the last 30 years is an increasing decline in the quantity and quality of water available.   I will draw on 16 months’ field research with residents, private suppliers and government agencies to analyse the techno-politics structuring human-water relationships in this complex and changing environment.


Bebbington, A. (2012). Underground political ecologies: The second Annual Lecture of the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. Geoforum, 43(6), 1152–1162. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2012.05.011

Maria, A. (2008). Urban water crisis in Delhi. IDDRI Working Papers N°06/2008. Retrieved from

Narain, S. (2011). Excreta Matters: How Urban India is Soaking Up Water, Polluting Rivers and Drowning in Its Own Waste – Volume 1. New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment.

Rohilla, S. K. (2012). Water, City and Urban Planning: Assessing the Role of Groundwater in Urban Development and Planning in Delhi (CSH Working Paper No. 31). Retrieved from

Shah, M. (2013). Water: Towards a Paradigm Shift in the Twelfth Plan. Economic and Political Weekly, 48(3), 40-52.

More details here.