The political economy of water scarcity and issues of inequality, entitlements and identities: A tale of two cases from southern India | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1474-2748
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0551


This article is an attempt to understand the issues underlying the problem of water scarcity in southern India and how perceptions of scarcity are influenced by various institutional forces and motivations. Two case studies are used to show the interplay of political considerations, contested rights and claims over water. The first one focuses on scarcity in the context of Chennai, a city with a population of six million, and examines access to water supply from the perspective of the issue of entitlements. The second discusses the interstate dispute over the water from River Cauvery, and seeks to identify some of the causes of the longrunning riparian dispute. While the empirical focus of the paper is on southern India, the issues raised are of significance to other Asian and African contexts.


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