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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Colin McFarlane

Graham, S., McFarlane, C. & Desai, R. Water wars in Mumbai. Public Culture. 2013;25:115-141

Author(s) from Durham


This essay excavates the complex politics of water in contemporary Mumbai. In the context of a burgeoning water crisis in the city, it explores in detail how the citys social and political elites demonize the efforts of inhabitants of Mumbais slums to hydrate their communities. Such demonization is paralleled by legal crackdowns and the deliberate destruction of improvised water infrastructure. The essay uses the Mumbai case study to reveal the costs of marginalizing the majority urban poor in global megacities: in public health, death rates, and communicable and waterborne diseases; in the burden of waiting for and carrying water (especially for women and children); in the burden of incurring high water expenses; in water extortion against the poor by predatory rackets; and in the problems of systematic dehydration.