Right to Drinking Water in India

C. Ramachandraiah
JEL codes: 
Working Paper No. 56 May, 2004

Right to water has assumed greater significance in India in recent years.
Declarations by the United Nations and other international organisations,
and judicial pronouncements by the Supreme Court of India from time to
time that right to water is part of right to life as per Article 21 of the Constitution
of India have, among others, contributed to the growing awareness on this
issue. That the State has the obligation to protect and fulfill the fundamental
rights of citizens, in this case provision of clean drinking water as part of
right to life, has not mattered much to the condition of the poor in this regard.
In addition to the lack of access to adequate quantity of water, millions of
poor have been suffering from the adverse consequences of water
contamination. There has been a paradigm shift towards treating water as
an economic good in India as a result of the structural adjustment policies
and the State has been adopting policies that favour the corporate business
in water sector. This paper analyses some of these issues and argues that
the entry of the corporate capital in water sector together with the role of
the State in this sector, poses a threat to the realization of the right to water
for the poor and marginalized groups in India. The paper further argues
that the right to food campaign should strongly incorporate the right to water
in the struggle against hunger and starvation