Fixing unruly flows: The infrastructures of wastewater in Bangalore, India

Principal Investigator


Principal investigator department

Human Geography
Grant Names:
Insight Grant

Award Years

2018 to 2023


In Bangalore, the information technology capital of India, sewage or wastewater is regularly dumped into the city’s lakes and stormwater drains as wastewater infrastructure has not kept pace with the explosive growth of the city. The city’s aging, extant wastewater infrastructure also often breaks down. Burst sewer pipes and clogged manholes are a common sight in the city. Bangalore’s sewage or wastewater flows, which consistently exceed the city’s wastewater infrastructure’s ability to capture and contain it, are clearly “unruly.”

The three main objectives of this research project are (1) to survey the “infrastructural fixes” that the civic authorities of Bangalore have rolled out in the past decade to contain and manage the unruly flows of wastewater; (2) to study the fraught political terrain of sanitation management to understand how “infrastructural publics” come to be constituted as Bangaloreans vigorously debate the differing infrastructural fixes that have been instituted to contain the disorderly flows of wastewater; and (3) to understand the lifeworlds of sanitation workers, who repair and maintain wastewater infrastructure thereby providing the vital “infrastructural labors” that make urban life itself possible.

This research will advance academic debates on urban infrastructural publics, citizenship and Southern urbanism, and will contribute to policy discussions of challenges of creating resilient urban infrastructure in rapidly growing “mega” cities of Asia. 

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