Complexity and inefficiency characterize water governance in India. Water management has economic, political, social and environmental dimensions and involves both state and non-state actors. Water Governance includes – setting goals, making rules and regulations, along with the implementation of these rules and regulations. The quality of water governance depends on how well the rules, a form of formal institution, and the decision-making procedures of a political regime are handled by various actors. Effective water governance is the ability to generate not only rules but also to achieve the goals prescribed by formal institutions. In India, however, informal institutions are an obstacle to effective implementation of formal institutions and lead to poor water governance performance.
Delhi, which is known as a city of migrants has suffered from non-uniform water distribution. The poor has hit the hardest by this situation. A significant percentage of the population in Delhi is not served with an adequate supply of water on a regular basis. The water distribution system of Delhi is characterized by a high degree of inequality. This is tied to the country’s caste system which was established thousands of years ago. The power structure that resides in the caste system can be seen in economics and politics. The wealthy and politically strong are the most influential. The exclusion of members of the lower caste by the so-called upper castes produces exploitative institutions and in-appropriation of resources, and feeds the corruption in the society. This study is based on a comprehensive examination of the class structure of the city and analyses urban water governance performance in Delhi.
It is argued in the study that corruption in water distribution is the result of corruption in various steps of Delhi’s water sector such as policy making and regulation; tendering and procurement; and planning and budgeting. Lack of transparency in the functionality of water authorities, lack of management accountability and awareness among citizens about deeply rooted issues of religion and culture and finally lack of participation from stakeholders in decision making processes are major parts of the problem.
To understand and anaylse performance of urban water governance in Delhi, this research is to investigate the role of informal institutions especially corruption as an obstacle to implement and practice sustainable water management in the city. The puzzle in which this research is trying to explain is why the capital of the world's largest democracy is not able to provide adequate amount of water to all of its citizens.