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Metabolic urbanism and environmental justice: The water conundrum in Bangalore, India

Environmental Justice, 7(5), 130-137

Author(s): Mehta, V. ; Goswami, R.; Kemp-Benedict, E.; Muddu, S.; Malghan, D.
Year: 2014

This article uses the example of domestic household water consumption patterns in Bangalore to demonstrate how the city's hydrology is shaped by social, political and economic variables.

Anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, and urban studies scholars have recorded the causes and consequences of inequities that underscore rapidly burgeoning cities in the global South. The authors argue that such accounts of urbanism are incomplete without accounting for the inequities in metabolic flows of matter and energy that physically sustains the city.

They present a simple coupled social-ecological framework that allows them to sketch the broad contours of this social hydrology of Bangalore. The analysis provides evidence for why questions of environmental justice cannot be separated from questions of biophysical sustainability. The authors show that anthropogenic drivers of groundwater hydrology in Bangalore dominate background biophysical drivers. Unequal spatial distribution of piped water infrastructure is the principal driver of groundwater hydrology in Bangalore, leading to the hypothesis that all urban hydrology is social hydrology.

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