Land Security and the Challenges of Realizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in the Slums of Mumbai, India

Health and Human Rights, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2012

13 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2013

See all articles by Sharmila Murthy

Sharmila Murthy

Northeastern University - Northeastern University, School of Law, Students; Northeastern University - School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Students

Date Written: December 2012

Abstract

Addressing the human right to water and sanitation in the slums of Mumbai, India requires disentangling the provision of basic services from a more complicated set of questions around land security and land ownership. Millions of slum-dwellers in Mumbai lack adequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which places them at risk for waterborne diseases. Many slums are located in hazardous areas such as flood plains, increasing their susceptibility to climate change-related weather patterns. Access to water and sanitation in slums generally hinges on whether a dwelling was created prior to January 1, 1995, because those constructed created prior to that date have greater land security. Although the so-called “1995 cut-off rule” looms large in Mumbai slum policy, a closer reading of the relevant laws and regulations suggests that access to water and sanitation could be expanded to slums created after January 1, 1995. State and municipal governments already have the authority to expand access to water services; they just need to exercise their discretion. However, slums located on central government land are in a more difficult position. Central government agencies in Mumbai have often refused to allow the state and municipal governments to rehabilitate or improve access to services for slums located on their land. As a result, an argument could be made that by interfering with the efforts of subnational actors to extend water and sanitation to services to slum-dwellers, the central government of India is violating its obligations to respect the human right to water and sanitation under international and national jurisprudence.

Keywords: human right, water, sanitation, Mumbai, slum, 1995 cut-off rule

Suggested Citation

Murthy, Sharmila, Land Security and the Challenges of Realizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation in the Slums of Mumbai, India (December 2012). Health and Human Rights, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340626

Sharmila Murthy (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - Northeastern University, School of Law, Students ( email )

Boston, MA
United States

Northeastern University - School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Students

Boston, MA
USA

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