Water Rights: A Case Study of Waterlogged Rural Areas in Allahabad

Under the Human Rights manifestos and fundamental rights in the constitution of India, the right of access to safe water is one of the rights. The Human Poverty Index also measures poverty by the percentage of people not using improved water sources. But for many, it is still inaccessible or difficult to access this important resource. The objective of the paper is to look into the matter how the human rights are being violated in terms of accessibility related to different water sources.

The paper discusses a case study of waterlogged rural areas of Allahabad. The case study area is one of the fertile plains of the Ganges. But the area is in the grip of waterlogging for the last sixteen years, since the upcoming of Sharda Sahayak Canal into the region without taking into consideration the watershed of the area. The other reason behind vast waterlogging are callous dumping of the river Varuna, ineffective drainage system, natural rainfall and Kharanja road construction.

The paper deals with the present sources of drinking water provided by Jal Nigam (water body responsible for drinking water supply in Uttar Pradesh). The paper would reflect the scenario of accessibility of drinking water sources by households, accessibility of drinking water sources within premises, accessibility to contaminated drinking water sources, magnitude of per capita water consumption by caste etc. The sand, mud with foul smell and worms are common features of drinking water during waterlogging days.

The paper also shows discrimination in accessibility of drinking water sources by social groups. The Open Caste and Muslims households have higher percentage of safe sources of water, whereas, the Schedule Caste and the OBCs have a low share comparatively. The tap connections were found to be very low among the Dalits and OBC households than the other counterparts. The Open Caste in rural areas still has the privilege of protected water provided by the civic bodies. There is discrimination in accessibility of drinking water sources within premises where maximum populations of the weaker sections have to go to a distance of half a kilometer to fetch water for household purposes. There is also an inequality seen in per capita water consumption by Social Groups.

The first part of the paper would discuss the government's norms dealing with drinking water, fundamental rights present in the constitution of India, how these rights have been violated in terms of per capita consumption, inequality related to caste etc., availability of drinking water, quality of water etc. The second part of the paper would deal with policy implications that would consider the role of Panchayati Raj Institutions, community institutions, NGOs and the government bodies for management and conservation of water resources. Finally a model would be presented for a participatory approach to sustainable water resource management.