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Welcome to IELRC.ORG

The International Environmental Law Research Centre is an independent research organisation focusing on international and comparative environmental law issues, with a particular emphasis on India and East Africa.

The aim of the IELRC is to contribute to the establishment of legal and institutional frameworks which foster sustainable environmental management in developing countries in an equitable international context...    [ read more ]

Latest news on IELRC.ORG


The National Law University Delhi (NLUD) organised a workshop on Issues and Challenges Relating to Groundwater Management in the Context of Climate Change on 21 June 2014 in Dwarka, New Delhi. This workshop was the second workshop of the 2013-2015 partnership project on Climate Change and Groundwater Management: An Indian Law and Society Comparative Study jointly run by the Law, Environment, Development Centre (LEDC), School of Law, SOAS – University of London and the National Law University, Delhi in the context of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

For more information and registration on the workshop, follow this link


The Law, Environment and Development Centre (LEDC), SOAS-University of London is organising a one day workshop on Mining, Law and Equity on 19 May 2014 at SOAS.

For more information and registration on the workshop, follow this link


Publication of P. Cullet’s op-ed in the Statesman, 'In Defence of Free Water – Beyond The Delhi Experiment’, 2 March 2014 concerning the promising free water introduced by the Government of Delhi in January 2014.


Madras High Court uses LEAD Journal articles in its reasoning on groundwater legislation in  Aidqua Holdings (Mauritius) v Tamil Nadu Water Investment Company, 2014 (paras 138-39). [read more]


The Law, Environment and Development Centre (LEDC), SOAS-University of London is organising a workshop in the context of the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) project on ‘Climate Change and Groundwater Management: An Indian Law and Society Comparative Study’ jointly run by School of Law, SOAS – University of London and the National Law University, Delhi with the support of the International Environmental Law Research Centre (IELRC) on Groundwater and Climate Change: Comparative and International Law and Policy Dimensions - Lessons for India on 24-25 January 2014 at SOAS. This workshop is bringing together experts on climate change law and policy and experts on groundwater law and policy to discuss and debate legal, policy and institutional issues concerning groundwater in the context of climate change.

For more information and registration on the workshop, follow this link


Workshop on the International and Comparative Perspectives of the Right to Sanitation at SOAS, University of London. Background papers prepared by IELRC members: Regulation of Sanitation in India – Basic Features [read more]; Rural Context for the Right to Sanitation in India [read more]; Indian Legal Framework for Sanitation in Urban Areas [read more]; Indian Legal Framework for Environment and Health Dimensions of Wastewater Disposal [read more]; Prohibition of Manual Scavenging and Protection of the Rights of Sanitation Workers in India [read more]

For further information about the workshop following this link.


Publication of water policy papers Drinking Water Regulation: Rethinking the Right to Water [read more] and Groundwater Regulation in Uttar Pradesh: Beyond the 2010 Bill [read more]


IELRC featured in Environmental Policy and Law - The journal for decision-makers [read more]


Report of the Planning Commission of India's Sub-group on “Legal Issues related to Ground Water Management and Regulation including the Strengthening of the Ground Water Regulatory Authorities at the Centre and States” of the Working Group on “Water Governance” for the XII Five Year Plan [read more] convened by Professor Cullet and Draft Model Bill for the Conservation, Protection and Regulation of Groundwater, 2011 [read more]


Dr Ramanathan to speak at the SOAS Law, Environment and Development Centre seminars on State Responsibility, Corporate Complicity and Conflicts over Land, 8 March 2012 [read more]


Inaugural lecture of Professor Cullet at SOAS on 7 March, Reforming Water Law and Policy in India [read more]


SOAS Centre of South Asian Studies Lecture by Usha Ramanathan on 7 March, Many Ambitions and an Identity Project [read more]


Fifteenth Lok Sabha, Standing Committee on Finance (2011-12) Forty-Second Report, The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010. Dr. Usha Ramanathan was one of the expert witnesses deposing in front of the Standing Committee [read more]


Latest academic publications

Please note that a complete list of our articles and book chapters an be accessed here, of our books here, of our working papers here and a comprehensive listing of all the documents published on this website including all the above as well as briefing papers, topical articles, special dossiers and miscellaneous documents can be accessed here.



Water Regulation and Public Participation in the Indian Context

Water regulation in India has traditionally been largely weak on public participation. Major changes have taken place in the past couple of decades from different perspectives. On the one hand, the international participatory agenda has been reflected in the adoption of a series of policies and laws emphasising the need for fostering the participation of water users. On the other hand, constitutionally-triggered decentralisation has led to democratically elected bodies of local governance being given broader water-related competencies. There have thus been significant changes in the discourse concerning public participation in the water sector. Yet, a lot more remains to be done to ensure that the change in discourse leads to an effective democratisation of the regulation of water. The two different forms of participation developing in parallel are different in their conceptual origin, the framework put in place for implementation and their results. While everybody agrees that participation in the water sector is necessary, its long-term success will be dependent on being framed in binding legal frameworks that reflect democratic principles.

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Competing Uses, Users and Legal Responses: Plachimada and Rajsamand Lake

Multiple uses of a single source of water often result in competition between uses and such competition may eventually lead to confrontation between users. The parties to this competition and confrontation may be different according to the predominant use of water in each area. For example, in Plachimada (Kerala), the conflict is between commercial use of water by the Coca Cola company, and domestic and agricultural use. In Rajsamand (Rajasthan), the conflict is primarily between agricultural use and urban drinking water use from the Rajsamand Lake. The confrontation between users/uses interacts with the law at various levels. Where confrontation takes the shape of organised movements, it may interact with crimiŽnal law quite often in the form of criminal cases against individuals in the moveŽment. The interaction also happens when parties use legal mechanisms such as administrative bodies for remedies (e.g. the Pollution Control Board). In some cases, the confrontation leads to litigation in court, as is the case of Plachimada and the Rajsamand Lake. In both these cases, the parties to the conflict have utilised the legal mechanisms including the judiciary for solutions. The role of the law is not limited to addressing the issue when it poses risks to law and order, or when it manifests into a legal dispute. The role of law also includes prevention of such conflicts by establishing norms and building institutions to enŽsure equitable allocation of water among different users. This case study examines water use conflicts in the context of their interaction with law at various levels. The legal dispute related to the exploitation of groundwater in Plachimada and the use of Rajsamand Lake are examined in detail to explain some of the common reasons for water conflicts and various levels of interaction between water conflicts and the law. The role and potential of the legal framework to settle water disputes peaceŽfully, and the role of the law in preventing water conflicts, are also examined.

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Access to ‘Safe’ Sanitation for Women: Questioning a Myopic Approach

The practice of open defecation is widespread in India. One of the main reasons for this state of affairs is the lack of access to adequate, safe, secure and hygienic sanitation facilities. This practice has an important gender dimension given the incidents of violence against women (including sexual harassment, molestation, rape etc.) while going for/engaging in open defecation. This violates the safety, security and privacy of women, which are integral components of their right to sanitation. Therefore, this issue ought to be a priority in any sanitation-related law, policy or programme. The existing legal framework partly deals with this issue in the context of criminal laws, which seek to punish the offenders depending on the facts and circumstances of the case and the available evidence. Based on the provisions of criminal laws, a number of cases have been decided by courts. Criminal laws perform a specific function of providing justice to the victim by punishing the offender for a criminal offence. They are not expected to engage with the root cause of the offence, which in this case is physical violence associated with the practice of open defecation. This case study seeks to document the decisions of the Supreme Court and High Courts in order to highlight the magnitude of the problem and determine the extent to which the existing legal framework provides justice to the victims and deters the commission of such offences in the future. It also examines the extent to which this problem has been addressed under the existing laws and policies concerning sanitation in India. The significance of this case study lies in the fact that although the underlying rationale for several of the existing sanitation policies and programmes is the need to address the issue of women's safety, in most cases, this is merely used as a justification to introduce the policy or programme. The actual implementation often does not result in any significant improvements in the status quo. The number of criminal cases concerning sexual violence where the victim resorted to open defecation in the absence of sanitation facilities is evidence of this failure.

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Groundwater Law in India – Towards a Framework Ensuring Equitable Access and Aquifer Protection

Groundwater law in India gives individual landowners overwhelming control over groundwater. This is inappropriate in a context where groundwater is now the main source of water for the realisation of the human right to water. This also fails to provides the basis for effective protection of groundwater at aquifer level. Increasing dependence on groundwater for all the main water uses has made the need for reforms of the legal framework increasingly acute. This article argues that groundwater law must be reconceived around a new set of principles that recognise the common nature of groundwater, its importance in realising the human right to water, the need for a governance framework starting at the local level and the need for a strong aquifer protection regime. The proposed new framework is then examined in the context of the Groundwater Model Bill, 2011 that reflects in large part this new framework.

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Final Word: Democracy, Legitimacy and International Climate Change Law and Policy

Currently, there is a bewildering array of institutions that are involved in climate change work. The picture at the international level is that of a fragmented regime of institutions. Such a large and fragmented network has brought with it problems of co-ordination and effectiveness. It has proved incredibly difficult to distil the many interests of the participants in these institutions into coherent and coordinated action, with the result that many of the ambitious targets for climate change have sadly been missed. More worryingly, however, it has become apparent that the many initiatives at the international level have tended to leave behind the polities that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change; the poorest and least able to adapt to the reality of our changing climate. As a result, key global governance structures are often viewed sceptically by developing countries because the interests of the richest countries remain embedded in processes and outputs of leading international institutions such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is therefore very important that in addition to fashioning creative and innovative solutions to the problems of climate change, that institutions involved in climate change work ensure that they actively take steps to enhance the legitimacy of their work. It matters not whether the illegitimacy of international institutions is real or perceived, what the evidence shows is that it robs them of the political will needed to maximise their effectiveness.

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