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The Politics of Sanitation in India

December 12, 2011

New publication

The new work from Susan E Chaplin, The Politics of Sanitation in India: Cities, services and the state, examines how the environmental problems confronting Indian cities arose and how they have forced millions of people to live in illegal settlements lacking adequate sanitation and other basic urban services. This occurred for two key reasons. The first is the legacy of the colonial city characterised by inequitable access to sanitation services, a failure to manage urban growth and the proliferation of slums, and the inadequate funding of urban governments. The second is the nature of the postcolonial state, which – instead of being an instrument for socioeconomic change – has been dominated by coalitions of interests accommodated by the use of public funds to provide private goods.

The result is that the middle class has been able to monopolise what sanitation services the state has provided because the urban poor, despite their political participation, have not been able to exert sufficient pressure to force governments to effectively implement policies designed to improve their living conditions. As a consequence, public health and environmental policies have frequently become exercises in crisis intervention instead of being preventative measures that benefit the health and wellbeing of the whole urban population.

These issues are explored by studying the history of colonial and post-independence urban development and management in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai and analysing why these cities have failed to provide equitable access to sanitation services for all residents.

Contact for Europe:
Alan Ball, Fox/Melisende, G8 Allen House, The Maltings, Station Road, Sawbridgeworth, Herts CM21 9JX, UK. Email

Contact for rest of the world:
Orient Blackswan Private Limited, 3-6-752 Himayatnagar, Hyderabad 500 029, Andhra Pradesh, India. Email

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