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DEMOGRAPHY INDIA. 1990 Jan-Jun; 19(1):79-91.Poorer sections of urban centers are disproportionately ill-affected by resource constraints limiting the provision of basic water and sanitation services. These areas are more vulnerable to economic degradation and environmental pollution. Planners and policymakers, however, often place greater importance upon rapid macroeconomic development at the expense of protecting the environment. By definition, therefore, such action is more likely to harm those most in need of infrastructural and economic development. Environmental degradation poses both macro and micro problems for cities and their populations. Public sector efforts generally focus upon improving at the macro level, while private sector action tends to dominate at the micro level. This paper studies the nature and magnitude of disparity in access to water and sewage/sanitation facilities among different consumption levels in urban areas. It finds that despite heavy government subsidization in the provision of the public water supply and sewage/sanitation systems, no favorable bias exists to meet the needs of underserved, poor areas. In fact, a substantial proportion of subsidized water is wastefully consumed by higher income groups, often in nonpriority use. Among the bottom 40% of population groups, 52% of households are without latrines. This paper points to the failure of macro-level governmental support to meet the basic needs of the urban poor, and the importance of private, informal solutions to secure basic amenities.