Dr Vaidehi Tandel, Lecturer at the University of Manchester, was interviewed for a new documentary on the water mafia in Indian cities

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Dr Vaidehi Tandel features in a new documentary taking an inside look at India's vast black market for water.

'Water Mafia' produced by Vice Studios and DocuBay explores the political economy of water provisioning in two of India's major cities, Delhi and Mumbai.

The film explores the various methods employed by the water mafia to regulate water access for urban residents through interviews with individuals connected to the water mafia, whistleblowers, and victims. It also provides insightful perspectives from investigative journalists, economists, and urban planners and sheds light on the role of government corruption in facilitating and sustaining this operation.

The trailer for the documentary can be found here.

The documentary was released in January 2024 and is available for streaming on the DocuBay website.

As an urban economist who researches the political economy of urban governance and planning in Indian cities, Dr Vaidehi Tandel was approached by the documentary makers to provide insight on the causes and magnitude of the problem of access to water in the city of Mumbai.

Describing the challenge of providing adequate water to the nearly 40% of the population that lives in slums, Dr Tandel notes in the documentary that “with the planning process, we did not do a good job of forecasting the number of people to come into the city…rather the focus was to try and de-densify. But the people came because of opportunities. The housing stock was not affordable for them…and there we saw a lot of slum settlements come up.”.

Dr Tandel has previously been quoted in the Financial Times (here and here) and appeared on two BBC podcasts (here and here), where she discussed the impact of COVID-19 and the future of cities.

  • View Dr Vaidehi Tandel's research profile.

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