Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 423–438 | Cite as

Groundwater market and its implications on water resources and agriculture in the southern peri-urban interface, Chennai, India

  • Shanmugam Packialakshmi
  • N. K Ambujam
  • Prakash Nelliyat


This paper describes the informal groundwater market existing in the urban–peri-urban interface of Chennai. The private water tanker suppliers and packaged water industries utilize the land and water resources of the peri-urban villages. Thus, the groundwater sources in peri-urban areas play a significant role in meeting the growing urban demand. The villages that are experiencing the groundwater market are highly influenced by the urbanization and its related activities, due to their proximity to the city. The transfer of groundwater from the peri-urban villages not only deprives the peri-urban areas of their water rights but also leads to environmental damage. Agriculture declined in the water marketed villages in the range of 20–95 per cent during 1990–2007. The pre-monsoon and post-monsoon groundwater level fluctuation varied from 2–6 m to 0–5 m, respectively, during 1971–2007. The declining trend of the groundwater table and agriculture is highly significant in the water marketing villages. Moreover, the present groundwater quality is also in a susceptible state due to over extraction. Hence, strengthening the legal and institutional framework to ensure an equitable access to water for both urban and peri-urban areas is urgently required. This paper also describes the characteristics of the groundwater transfer, quantification of the marketed water, the role of the existing regulatory framework, and the institutional mechanisms. Many stakeholder’s meeting and focus group discussions have been conducted in the villages under study for understanding the socio-economic implications of the water market. The study ultimately emphasized a sustainable groundwater extraction/market which will safeguard the interests of the peri-urban and urban communities.


Groundwater Peri-urban areas Water Quality Socio-economic implication Groundwater Market 



This research was funded and supported by Wagningen University, Netherlands, under the Crossing Boundaries (CB) Project. The authors sincerely thanks the South Asian Integrated Water Resources Management Consortium (saci WATERs), Hyderabad, coordinator of the CB project for providing the necessary support and fellowship to complete the present work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shanmugam Packialakshmi
    • 1
  • N. K Ambujam
    • 1
  • Prakash Nelliyat
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Water ResourcesAnna UniversityChennaiIndia

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