Lyla Mehta

Lyla Mehta

Water and Sanitation domain convenor

Lyla is a sociologist whose work has largely focused on issues concerning knowledge, power, rights and access in natural resource management, addressed through the case of water. Research areas include global and local responses to water scarcity and, more recently, Community-Led Total Sanitation.

Lyla Mehta's Google Scholar profile

Recent articles from Google Scholar

  • Displaced by ‘development': land, water and protest in Modi’s India

    Published on 24 April 2015

    Protesters sitting in waterIn the Narmada valley in western India, displaced people and activists are protesting against displacement, submergence and the violation of their basic rights. 20 activists, including Alok Agarwal, senior activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement), have been standing or sitting waist-deep in the submergence waters of the Omkareshwar dam in Madhya Pradesh, India, for the past 12 days. According to a press release by the movement, their skins and bodies are being badly affected and are disintegrating, but the protest goes on.

    The activists are protesting because the state government seeks to increase the water level of the Omkareshwar dam from 189 metres to 191 metres. The dam is one of the 30 large dams under construction on the River Narmada – making up one of the most controversial river valley projects in the world. It is set to displace at least a million people from their homes, lands and livelihoods, many of whom are Adivasi (indigenous) communities as well as lower caste marginal and small farmers.

    The Omkareshwar dam will displace 50,000 small farmers and flood about 5,800 hectares of India’s last intact natural forests. When work on the project started, no proper social or environmental impact assessments had been conducted.


    Published on 18 March 2009

    By Lyla Mehta, STEPS Centre Member

    The World Water Forum means many different things to different people. For the many so called water warriors and activists attending the event and organising alternative water justice events at Taksim Square, the Forum lacks legitimacy because it is organised by the World Water Council, a private think tank with close links with the World Bank and large French water companies. Their credibility suffered further, due to the way in which a peaceful protest was crushed.



    Published on 13 March 2009

    By LYLA MEHTA , STEPS Centre member

    Every three years, the water community gathers together for the Water Water Forum. This year’s Water Water Forum is in Istanbul from March 16 – 22. Are such global meetings a big circus or can something meaningful emerge? Photo credit: Crispin Hughes / Panos

    My colleagues and I will be in Istanbul to participate in the Forum and will write regular blogs here on The Crossing. Join us to be updated on what’s happening, what the faultlines in the debate are and whether there’s any hope for the billions without access to water and sanitation.

    Find out more about the STEPS Centre’s work on water and sanitation.