Thursday, December 3, 2009

Privatization of Water: An attack on the Fundamental Human Rights

Privatization of Water: An attack on the Fundamental Human Rights.

The direction in which the water planning in India is heading towards today and its formulation will lead to prohibition on use of a natural resource called water.
Water is a natural resource and can be used as easily as other natural resources like sunlight and air. But formulation of such policies will lead to transformation of water as a “private property”.
Indian and foreign private corporations will use water as a raw material. This means that the common man not only has to ask for permission but also has to pay to the private company for usage. (Whether it is surface water or ground water). Without this the usage of water is going to be prohibited.
Till now the water planning in India encompassed basic goals of ensuring availability of drinking water and expanding the irrigational areas.  The expenses incurred by the government in distribution of water are collected as tax. But now the private corporations related to the “water business” will take contracts for water distribution and will mint huge profits from it.
In this way by making water a personal property a system is formed to exploit the common man. The severity of this loot can be gauged by the fact that in future even after ample availability of water the farmers and poor people will be deprived of water because of lack of power to purchase.
It’s been told to us so many times and is continued to be told that the common man and the farmers use water unlimitedly (or abuse it). Because of such prohibitive laws that are under formulation process digging of wells and tube wells will be prohibited, along side this huge dams are coming up, private corporations are getting invited for management and distribution of water. In this way in the name of public welfare, via means of laws and policies water is declared as a “national property” or “national resource”. This is followed by the conspiracy of making water a “private property”, so that private corporations can mint huge profits from this. As a result of this the common man will be deprived of water and of his natural rights.
It is difficult to make those “thinkers” understand who have given up their simple thought process and only sing to the tunes of contemporary system. It’s a point worth pondering at that forest, petroleum, Natural gas, Coal etc all are natural resources and should be easily available to each and every individual. Each should be given freedom to use these resources for their own needs. But the question that is worth asking is “Does this happens?”.
Control has been established over natural resources like forest products, petroleum, Coal etc. via means of immoral and unjust laws, and then the government handed over all the rights of exploitation of these resources to private corporations. Tribal communities were kicked out of jungles by terming jungles as national property; we can see the after effects of this in form of naxalite movements. Rights for usage of these resources whether by a needful or by the nearest person to the resource should be made available on a priority basis. But the conversion of “National property” in to wealth of private corporations deprived the common man from the usage of these resources.
But the huge part of population has been deprived of usage of these products just because of the reason that they don’t have the purchasing power. We have medicines, we have Doctors but still so many people die of simple diseases lie malaria. Godowns are full of grains, its getting rotten, rodents are eating it up, but still people are dying out of starvation. When such phenomenon will happen with water which is an integral part of our daily lives, then we all will be fortunate enough to see people dying of thirst. In such a drastic situation who will be able to conceive the human view of this living world? This is an imposing question in front of our generation.
Many big dams are built in country. Overlooking the damage caused because of this to animals, forests, tribal rehabilitation the construction of these dams is in full swing. Those activists who vehemently oppose this are labeled as anti- development and even as anti- nationals. This is the way in which such movements are buried. These dams were built with the promises of increase in drinking water availability, irrigational area enhancement, more supply to industries, fisheries and power generation. It is been told that building of such dams will lead to national development. But before spending thousands of crore rupees on such project did anyone did the utility valuation for such projects. Those dams which are built have not even come close to their declared and planned targets. Studies show us that these dams were totally unnecessary for drinking water supply, electricity generation and industrial water supply.
Then why this stubbornness to build such huge dams?
This is a big question. Apart from gaining of control of water supply by big companies, pressure from international financial institutions, and along with this opportunity to for corruption by our politicians and administrators their cannot be any other reason. 
Despite the miserable performance of these big dams, the pressure from world community for their construction clearly indicates the interest of these organisations non other than securing monopolistic rights for private corporations. By acquiring such monopolistic rights over reservoirs these private corporations will earn huge profits by putting charges on irrigation, drinking water, along with fisheries. 
To acquire monopoly on water reservoirs Viveli, Suez Lopez, Enron are fighting with each other on international front. In India Nestle, Coke, Pepsi are trying out their wrestling skills at each other, and why not huge profits are going to be generated out of no big investments. Currently the worldwide water business stands at 347 Billion USD . In India the bottled water business accounts for Rs 8000 Crore. Exports of thousands of cubic meters of water in huge water bags are already underway. The member nations of WTO cannot stop this. It will be considered as a violation of WTO agreement. Right now the WTO is engaged in formulating policies to smoothen the privatization of water management and distribution. The government of India has also in their new water policy that encourages “Stop and Use”, and by doing this the government has initiated a smooth start in this direction. By studying these policies it becomes crystal clear that these policies are basically a part of conspiracy to gain control over water.
In 2001, Bolivia a Latin American country witnessed water privatization. US of A based Beshtel acquired the distribution rights for water. As soon as this happened the prices of water shot up to 10 times.
Digging of wells and tube wells was already banned.
90% of population had to struggle for water. This drastic situation forced people to come out and struggle. At last 11 people paid the price of water in exchange of their lives, and Beshtel had to pack their bags and leave Bolivia. But the question that arises here is how can and how long the common man can remain protected from the trident of Privatization, Liberalization, and Globalization.
Centralized planning always leads to generation of two classes namely the exploited and the exploiters.
Whether the benefit of centralized system goes to capitalist or to a Socialist its always the labour class which stands as a looser. In Vidarbh region I observed that Ganesh a fisherman gets Rs 8-10 per Kg of fish from capitalist contractor system. Babulal in M.P. at Tawa dam region gets Rs. 12-20 per Kg of fish under a socialist cooperative system, on the other hand Dwarka Bhai in Tapi River under a natural and decentralized system gets Rs 35-45 per Kg. Its only in a decentralized system a labourer can get appropriate price for and along with them can have reserved right to live. Under a centralized system a labourer is bound to sell his or her labour at cheaper prices.
By privatization of water resources not only the hierarchy of fishermen’s rights will occur but also a rise in price of drinking, irrigational and industrial water supply will lead to a break in financial backbone of Indian urban, rural citizens and Industrialists. In this perspective the question of opposing big dams is not only linked to migrants but also to each and individual in the country. It is linked to our own right to survive. We will have to oppose these big dams to ensure that the innocent flow of water. If we don’t wake up now than the future will never allow us to sleep quietly.
In this context a comment made by Barrister Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi is worth to take a note of “In my view the economic structure of whole world should be in such a way that no one is deprived of food, water and clothing. In other words everyone should have enough work to live his own life.

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