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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


Publication of Sanitation Law and Policy in India – An Introduction to Basic Instruments edited by Philippe Cullet and Lovleen Bhullar. This is the first book bringing together the various dimensions of sanitation law in India in a single volume, a crucial contribution in the context of the fast increasing interest for all matters related to sanitation. [read more]


Water Law, Poverty, and Development - Water Sector Reforms in India, the only monograph on water law in India published in this century is again available in India/South Asia through Oxford University Press [see ordering information on this link]


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


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.



Inter-Sectoral Water Allocation and Conflicts – Perspectives from Rajasthan

Inter-sectoral allocation of water has become an increasingly important and contentious issue in India. Yet, the law and policy frameworks for allocation or re-allocation of water to different uses, or within a category of use, remain underdeveloped. This article provides the starting point for a conversation on the law and policy dimensions of inter-sectoral water allocation. It first provides a general introduction to inter-sectoral water allocation and inter-sectoral water conflicts in India and examines the contribution of statutes, policies and the judiciary towards resolving these complex issues. It then focuses on the state of Rajasthan and a specific inter-sectoral water allocation conflict in Rajsamand district to illustrate the gaps in the existing law and policy frameworks and to highlight the multiplicity of issues that need to be addressed. The last section argues that existing legal principles can provide the basis of a framework for inter-sectoral water allocation, the law must go beyond providing a simple prioritising of water uses and water allocation must be understood in a multi-scalar and comprehensive manner.

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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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Principle 7 – Common but Differentiated Responsibilities

The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) has been since the late 1980s one of the most crucial principles of international environmental law. Its central role is linked to the fact that the adoption of international environmental legal instruments has been largely conditional on the inclusion of some form of differentiation. This is confirmed by the fact that today, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the context of the revision of the climate change treaties is the place and understanding of CBDR....

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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 crimi¬nal law quite often in the form of criminal cases against individuals in the move¬ment. 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 en¬sure 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 peace¬fully, 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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