Political Ecology of Urban Agricultural Pollution
Cultivating the Yamuna Floodplains in Delhi
Keywords:Toxicity, Commercial agriculture, Floodplain, Uncertainty, Lay epidemiology, Urban ecologies
The Yamuna khadar or the floodplains of the river Yamuna in Delhi is a deeply contested agrarian space. While thousands have been involved in farming these floodplains for decades, contestations over their legality, compensation, land use, displacement, and impact on the river, soil, and city have been significant public concerns over the last few decades. In this paper, I focus on one aspect of this agrarian landscape—the toxicity associated with river water due to the pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture. I examine how toxicity is perceived, discursively constructed, and dealt with by differently located stakeholders in this landscape. The differently located stakeholders associated with the toxic agrarian landscape of Yamuna khadar are not experiencing pollution as a homogenous community, i.e., neither all of them see themselves as suffering from pollution nor do they see themselves as contributing to the toxicity of the landscape in a similar way.
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