World Policy Institute fellow and author Kavitha Rajagopalan investigates the informal water economy of Chennai, a city in southern India. She finds that the government’s failure to dependably distribute clean water has made black-market dealings a necessity. But in such a poorly regulated environment, “clean” water is often dirty, putting millions at risk of falling ill. She puts forward a number of possible plans, including pani panchayats, or citizen-led water councils inspired by institutions in rural India.

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