Research & Advocacy

At every stage, PHS compliments its work in communities with relevant research and in addition also conducts independent needs assessment studies in different areas to strengthen their cause and work. Some important studies on the issue that have been powerful advocacy tools include:

      1. Analysis of Water Distribution Improvement Project initiated in K East Ward (2008)
      2. Rapid Assessment Survey Report (2010)
      3. Denial of Drinking water-Pricing life in Mumbai (2011)
      4. Life in Peril- Denial of Drinking Water and Sanitation in Mumbai (2011)
      5. Myths and Facts about Mumbai’s water (2012)
      6. Report on Water and Sanitation in Garib Nagar (2013)

Independent researchers have also conducted various studies on the issue.

Significant publications include:

      1. Right to Water – Legal status and perspective (Adv Mihir Desai, 2011)
      2. Urban Planning Response in Mumbai During the COVID-19 Lockdown: A Citizen’s Charter
      3. Malad Wall Collapse: A State Induced Disaster
      4. Moving Towards Universal Water & Sanitation Access – A  Ground Assessment of WASH Realities in COVID-19 times

Advocacy methods have to be multiple. Some of these include memorandums to the National Human Rights Commission, Maharashtra Water Resource Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) and Minority Commission, which has created pressure on the MCGM. Public exhibitions on the right to water and alternate media were used to create public awareness on this issue that affects a large percent of the city’s population. In terms of legislative action, a PIL was filed by Pani Haq Samiti in October 2011 challenging the Maharashtra UDD circular denying piped water to ‘all unauthorized structures’. The final judgment made in December 2014 was a historic one. The bench presided by Justice Abhay Oak and Justice A S Gadkari, stated that whether homes are deemed ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ – in upholding Article 21 of the Indian Constitution – it is the responsibility of the government to provide water to all. 

Advocacy & engagement with governance: We have also been continuously working towards establishing dialogue with the Hydraulic Engineer (HE) and working on details of the plans of providing access to water to the unauthorized colonies. The HE is the administrative and technical head of the water distribution systems of Mumbai. In addition to organizing multiple meetings with the people of the community, sorting out technicalities of the policy and keeping an access open for dialogue; we were able to get the HE to waive the Rs. 500 undertaking (printed on stamp paper and notarised) that was to be submitted by each applicant group as a part of their application packet. This has been a great help for all the members of the communities that we have been working with. In a form of a direct intervention, we were able to get a No Objection Certificate from the Suburban and City collectorate to the MCGM with regards to the laying of pipelines for water connections in unauthorized slums. The NOC from the Metropolitan Regional Development Authority is also currently in the works. Find the above mentioned circular and the NOCs attached at the end of the report.

As a part of our national and global advocacy campaign, we have been having multiple formal and informal conversations with many organizations working within this sector. As a part of these efforts, with the help of the Global green grants fund, we were able to hold a series of workshops for the UN Rapporteur.  The visit of Leo Heller, the “United Nations – Special Rapporteur on Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation” to India beginning from the last week of October 2017 was an opportunity for us to share with him our views, opinions, analysis, understanding and updates from our friends and colleagues who had been working on various aspects related to water and sanitation issues for a long time. 

Two thematic sessions with the Special Rapporteur had been planned on 27th October 2017 from 2.30 pm regarding: 

1. Law and policy framework for facilitation of human rights to water and sanitation.

2. Service provision, regulation and public private partnerships in drinking water sector and its impact.

We also organized a round-table consultation and a field visit for the representative in the informal settlements of Mumbai on the 4th of November, 2017. In addition to this, we organized a similar meeting to give light to the problems of the access to water in the cities of the South States of India on the 29th of October. The statement by the Special Rapporteur is available here. 

Also the press conference was live-streamed and can be found here. 

Study of the interventions promoting privatization of water thus inhibiting the Right to Water: At the level of secondary data collection and analysis, we have collected a significant amount of data on the Water Distribution and Improvement Project (WDIP), slated to be a public private partnership between the MCGM and the Suez Environment. The initial concerns with this project were that it would eventually lead to the privatization of water access and distribution within the city of Mumbai. Though this concern remains, it has not taken any concrete shape so far. Our initial analysis of the data gathered indicates slow progress of the project implementation. We will continue to monitor the progress of this project over the next few years. Find the synopsis and initial analysis of the project at the end of the report. 

  • Urban Governance Experiences for Accessing Water in Mumbai – University of Columbia and YUVA
  • IIT & TISS White Paper


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