Birkenholtz T, 2010, "‘Full-cost recovery’: producing differentiated water collection practices and responses to centralized water networks in Jaipur, India" Environment and Planning A 42(9) 2238 – 2253
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‘Full-cost recovery’: producing differentiated water collection practices and responses to centralized water networks in Jaipur, India
Received 5 February 2010; in revised form 26 April 2010
Abstract. This paper examines the political ecological effects of the expansion of an urban centralized water-supply network and the transformation of it into a full-cost-recovery system in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. It draws on data collected through a 2007 household survey of six Jaipur neighborhoods stratified by class; follow-up household interviews in 2007 and 2009; and interviews with public water supply managers and private water tanker vendors in both 2007 and 2009. The investigation concludes that the spatially uneven integration of network expansion and the intermittent flow of water circulating through it, combined with historical axes of political economic difference produces uneven adaptive responses to maintain access to water, such as waiting on water, private tubewell construction, and private water tanker operations, while transforming social power relations. It is concluded, first, that these uneven flows and cost-recovery initiatives are exacerbating current disparities in access to drinking water and, second, that the current public water-supply system has only been partially reformed and that these policy changes have rendered the public supplier unable to recover costs. This makes the need for a private sector rescue of an incapacitated and inefficient public institution seem obvious to planners, yet the public utility’s inability to set costs or to set infrastructure priorities draws into question the need for the private sector and full-cost-recovery reforms.
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