Impact of urbanization on water quality and peri-urban livelihoods

Rapid urbanization and industrialization in developing countries have had huge impact on the natural resource base, especially water. Livelihoods in peri urban areas have responded in myriad ways to the qualitative and geographic expansion of cities. The rapid change that cities and peri urban areas undergo also calls for a closer look at current institutions and forms of governance. The project titled ‘Rural-urban conundrum: political economy of social and environmental transformation in agrarian landscapes’ (2011-2016) looks at these issues taking the case of Bengaluru. This study is funded by the Tata Trusts.

During the past six years (2011-2016) we have explored the following three aspects:

  • The impact of urbanization on rural livelihoods
  • The role of wastewater in sustaining agriculture
  • The implications of wastewater use in agriculture on farmer health

We examined the impact that urbanization has had on livelihoods in select villages adjoining Bengaluru, in the Vrishabhavathy and Suvarnamukhi catchments. We found that in the command area of Byramangala reservoir, urban wastewater has caused a shift to crops such as babycorn and fodder from paddy and ragi (finger millet). In the next phase, we are planning to investigate the implications of wastewater irrigation on health of farmers in the area.

We made an assessment of the impact of a major wastewater treatment plant in the Vrishabhavathy river course, The Vrishabhavathy Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant, on river water quality. This was followed up by tracing the origin of heavy metals in stream focusing on a major industrial belt, Peenya and adjoining areas, in the upper Vrishabhavathy catchment. We have made a preliminary assessment on the presence of heavy metals in water, milk and vegetables (specifically babycorn) and further analysis is underway.

We are also undertaking a review of current statutory enactments and assessment of regulatory agencies to find answer to the larger governance question, why pollution regulation is ineffective, despite the existence of laws and institutions.



Research staff

In addition several of the ACCUWa project staff and interns also contribute to the activities in the project.


Conference Presentations

  • Jamwal P., S. Lele & M. Menon (2016) Rethinking water quality standards in the context of urban rivers In: Eighth INSEE Biennial Conference, 2016, Bengaluru “Urbanization and the Environment” 4 - 6 January 2016.
  • Jamwal P., M. Idris and P. R .Urs (2015) Linking urban wastewater discharges to water quality of Peri-Urban areas: A case study of Bangalore city. 1st Indo-Chinese Young Engineering Leaders’ Conclave (ICON-1) I.I.T. Gandhinagar, October 7-9, 2015.
  • Jamwal P., Mohammed. Idris, P. Raje. Urs & S. Lele (2015) Rethinking framework for instream and effluent water quality in the context of urban wastewater reuse in agriculture In: national conference on National Conference on Challenges in Environmental Research, 04-06 June 2015, IIT Guwahati, Assam.