Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Belinda Dodson


This dissertation comprises three papers that focus on the interplay of formal and informal institutional processes in the sharing of water between the Mumbai Metropolitan region and an agricultural area to its north and east in Thane district. The first paper focuses on the interests and motivations that influence the everyday practices of the canal bureaucracy in the Surya project in Dahanu. This paper is largely a critique of the application of rational choice theory to analyzing bureaucratic corruption in a literature in development studies that was pioneered by Robert Wade. Using an ethnographic narrative style, the paper seeks to provide an account of bureaucratic corruption by focusing on tensions within the local Irrigation Department over bribes and transfers. The poor maintenance of the canal system by engineers in Dahanu and the consequent wastage of water are highlighted as providing a rationale and justification for diversion of water to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The second paper traces the historical evolution of institutional practices and local water policy in the Tansa-Vaitarna (T-V) water district, a major source of water for Greater Mumbai and others towns in the Mumbai metropolitan region. It analyzes the failure of collective action in the water district over local water needs and identifies prior appropriation and the fragmentation of metropolitan water governance as the two major factors that are constraints in meeting the water needs of the rural population in the T-V water district. The third paper focuses on the experiences of farmers with water scarcity and dispossession from land on a canal system in two villages in Dahanu. The paper uses survey and interview data from interviews with farmers to understand how water scarcity is manufactured on the canal minor system and discourses of efficiency, abundance and waste are deployed by wealthy commercial farmers and local elites to deprive small and marginal tribal farmers from water.