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Water sector reform policy of India: Experiences from case studies in Maharashtra


  • Brunner, Norbert
  • Lele, Ashwini
  • Starkl, Markus
  • Grassini, Laura


Recognizing the failure of past interventions to provide water services to all citizens in developing countries, worldwide a reform process of water policies has been initiated. The Indian State of Maharashtra is a front-runner in formulating and implementing such a reform policy. Its policy aims at demand-led, participatory and democratic decision-making for project implementation (as distinct to the previous supply-driven policies). This paper evaluates the success of this reform policy for 12 villages of the Deccan Plateau in Maharashtra. There, these projects were implemented under two funding programs of different donors that implemented the reform policy through different guidelines. The paper confirms that promoting bottom-up decision-making supported by capacity building can lead to better outcomes. However, it also highlights several risks, which may be mitigated by selective top-down control mechanisms. Hence, a combination of bottom-up and top-down decision-making may lead to best results.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunner, Norbert & Lele, Ashwini & Starkl, Markus & Grassini, Laura, 2010. "Water sector reform policy of India: Experiences from case studies in Maharashtra," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 544-561, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jpolmo:v:32:y::i:4:p:544-561

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Howes & Liana Wortley & Ruth Potts & Aysin Dedekorkut-Howes & Silvia Serrao-Neumann & Julie Davidson & Timothy Smith & Patrick Nunn, 2017. "Environmental Sustainability: A Case of Policy Implementation Failure?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-17, January.
    2. Ruiz-Villaverde, Alberto & Picazo-Tadeo, Andrés J. & González-Gómez, Francisco, 2015. "The ‘social choice’ of privatising urban water services: A case study of Madrid in Spain," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 616-629.
    3. Norbert Brunner & Vijay Mishra & Ponnusamy Sakthivel & Markus Starkl & Christof Tschohl, 2015. "The Human Right to Water in Law and Implementation," Laws, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-59, August.


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