Water Problems and Public Participation in Chennai City: An Empirical Study

  • Sivapragasam P Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work (Aided) Madras School of Social Work (Autonomous)
  • Kavitha Balaraman Project Manager CCD-TCL CSR, The Covenant Centre for Development
Keywords: CMWSSB, Legal Provision, Potable Water, Public Participation, Water Rights, Water Scarcity, Water Pollution


Water is one of the world's most precious resources. Access to quality and potable water access underpins socio-economic improvement, justice, welfare and sustainable development, however it is estimated that half of the world's population will face acute water shortage by 2030, more so in developing countries like India. Cities like Chennai in India are prone to water-related problems. Water-related issues continue to pound Chennai in the last two decades; it seems that the authorities have failed people in the efficient management and governance of water sources and administration. While authorities can do much, the role of people in the utilization and management of water resources is also crucial. The attitude of people about water resources, its utilization, and their participation level in the conservation and protection of water resources are critical for efficient use of environmental resource. People's perceptions and their attitudes are outcomes of the circumstances of their lives and their sensitivity to the critical issue of water use.

This study therefore attempted to understand people perception and attitude towards water problems in Chennai city by administering an interview schedule. In all, 200 respondents were identified through the stratified sampling method. The respondents included key informants, social workers and professionals working in environment and sustainability, and the general public. Poor catchment of rain water during monsoons, unabated ground water exploitation, loss of water bodies in the name of development infrastructures, contamination of water bodies due to discharge of untreated industrial waste, improper solid waste management, indifference on the part of the government and its officials to water concerns and, above all, public apathy towards water in particular and the environment in general have all contributed to Chennai' city's mounting water problems. The findings and its implications are discussed.


CMWSSB, legal provision, potable water, public participation, water
rights, water scarcity, water pollution