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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 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.


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.



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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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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Right to Water in India – Plugging Conceptual and Practical Gaps

This article examines the content of the human right to water. It starts from the premise that the right is firmly anchored in international and national law. It thus moves beyond debates concerning either the existence or the legal status of the right in favour of a more in-depth discussion of its content. It focuses on India, a country where the right is well entrenched at a broad level but where the actual content of the right is not well defined in legal instruments. It considers some of the aspects of the right that are most critical at this juncture from a policy perspective, including the need to ensure that the universality of the right in theory is matched by universal realisation, the need for the core content of the right to be provided by the state and the need to recognise the right as including a free water component if it is to make a difference for the overwhelming majority of poor people.

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Governing the Environment without CoPs - The Case of Water

CoPs have played a key role in governing the environment. Yet, CoPs have only provided the institutional framework for governing issues falling under existing treaty regimes. They have not been able to go beyond the regimes they govern. In the case of water, the absence of a well-developed treaty regime has open the door to new non-governmental institutions taking the lead. This happens to coincide in part with the framework proposed by global administrative law that sees governance as a set of largely non-hierarchical relationships where states are not necessarily dominant. This article critically analyse the contribution that global administrative law makes to our understanding of environmental stewardship and looks at ongoing institutional reforms in the water sector that are not based on CoPs being the main actor.

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