Monday, August 27, 2012

India Water Policy 2012: Design for Water Loot

"Indians going to bed hungry or, many times, dying hungry while food grains in huge amount do rot in government godowns is a fact known to all. If the designed water policy is implemented and corporate players are allowed to have rightful access to the water resources, the country is to see incidents of thirst deaths of Indians who are unable to afford to a glass of pure water owned by corporate houses."

We know the story of loot in the un-liberated India. British came here to do business. However, instead of doing a fair business, they engaged themselves in unparalleled plunder of India’s wealth. Freedom struggle aroused hopes in people’s mind that this plunder would stop after independence. But this could not happen.
India became free, but the loot continued rather increasingly day by day. The shape and form of the loot has changed. New avenues are being searched. Along with exploitation of labour, industrial manufacturing and service sector, natural resources have also come under this loot. Coal, minerals, petroleum, gas, water, land, biodiversity, forests are being openly looted. Some of these sources are so perilous that they would end for ever if exploited.
India’s Policy Design for Water Loot
Water, which is the most basic thing for life and the nature’s cycle, which is naturally available everywhere on earth and which is made available for all by the mother nature is now being treated as a marketable commodity in India. Now, the private property right is to be extended over ground water enabling anybody to extract, buy and sell ground water under this right. Once it happens, any individual or company can have ownership right over any river, lake, pond or underground water and sell this right to any other person or company in lieu of handsome profit. May be, it can also restrict common users and people from using water from sources owned by private owners.
Usually we understand water business by the business of bottled drinking water. But it is not so now. It is on sale for everything, from mining to industries, that requires water. A new water industry is taking shape in the country.
Land has already become a marketable commodity. Land ownership rights gave birth to a system that made corporatisation of land easy. The same way, water is being converted into a tradable commodity. Ownership rights over water will give rise to a new kind of Panidari (system of ownership and trading of water) and clear the way for its corporatisation. A new legal system from top to bottom to facilitate this corporatization is being designed. Many states of India have formulated new water policies and laws. Several of them have already passed them to facilitate loot of water by capitalists and corporate houses.
Water cycle causes rain which every year gives us over and underground water in certain quantities. If measured, a colossal amount of water is made available to us every year by nature. India gets about 4000 billion cubic metre (BCM) rain water annually. After evaporation, 1869 BCM water remains is our rivers and other water sources; and only 1123 BCM water (690 BCM over ground and 433 BCM underground) finally remains usable for us. So, usable water is limited. In India a total of 688 BCM water is needed for agriculture while the drinking and necessary domestic need is about 56 BCM leaving 69 BCM water for other use.
India’s large water reserve, limited water availability and increasing demand, all these factors are being used by corporate houses to establish, through the help of World Bank, their control over water and its commercial utilisation.
World Bank’s Water Resources Strategy Report discusses in detail various issues related to privatization of water in the world on the basis of Dublin Principle, which includes structural reforms in use of water as a commodity, determination of all other areas of water use, including irrigation, based on cubic metre measurement system adopting singular vision for both over ground and underground water, ending subsidies on water for irrigation. Private-Public Partnership, encouragement of private sector in water management and distribution, water literacy, data bank for water related statistics etc – all these issues are discussed in the strategy report which finally gives directions to the World Bank to take a role in it.
Water Policy 2012
Indian government’s water policy-2012 makes it clear that India’s policy is completely in accordance with World Bank guidelines. This is a good case of World Bank’s direct hand in Indian policy making. World Bank has also tried for inclusion of water in central list so that a single water policy and accompanying laws could be implemented in the whole country. But it could not be possible, so far, as power of making laws for water related policies are vested with the states. Some states of the country have made their water policies and related laws according to Water Policy-2002. Other states are almost forced to implement such policies as condition for getting loans.
Three major Acts placed as guiding laws for States to implement water policies are:
1- Water Resources Regulatory Authority Act.
2- Management of Irrigation systems by Farmers Act.
3- Ground Water Act.
Water Resources Regulatory Authority is to sell water rights and decide prices of water while the other two acts are to oversee the management of water resources, through water committees and consumers’ organizations, and the recovery of cost of water.
A new legal system is also established for corporate houses to manage their Water business – meaning, corporate control over water is almost legalised. Using that system a company will sell water taken from river, ponds, lake or its own tube-wells through cubic measurement system for household use, agricultural use or for industrial use. And to show that all is being done by people and communities directly, Consumer Forums and Water Committees are being organized and these organizations will facilitate maintenance and management of water supply system, and recover the cost from the users and hand it over to the company. So, more likely to that of British tax systems of the colonial days, people and communities are to engage themselves as agents of corporate houses for no benefit but against the rights of their own (of people and the communities) over the natural resources. Initially these projects will be started on PPP model and slowly handed over to private companies.
Rights over Natural Resources Shifting
Now to make further way for the World Bank’s intentions, Draft Water Policy – 2012 has come. For making corporatization of underground water easy, an amendment in Indian Easement Act-1882 is being proposed. Water will be made a national property so that the central government holds all rights lawfully to sell water ownership to individual or companies.
It is believed in India that water is life. In Indian psyche, its importance is related to purity and divinity offered by nature itself. For all forms of life, it is freely available anywhere and everywhere. But now it will not be free. It is now a commodity for sell, some thing which is unthinkable for any Indian!
Corporate houses and World Bank have done this through their intrigues. It is interesting that Indians are still not aware of what is happening on such a sensitive front. Corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and some NGOs of our land are also helping the foreign agencies to fulfil their interest in India’s water resources. World Bank’s declared aim is to eradicate poverty from the world through development. But, behind this pious aim, World Bank has always worked for strengthening capitalist system and serving the interest of corporate houses. By installing its own persons on the top and then building pressure to formulate national policies to legalise illegal to promote loot of the country that is unethical and unlawful as per the existing laws. This is World Bank’s modus operandi. In India, World Bank has also done the same to gain direct access to county’s natural resources and make way for corporate powers to loot them. Now it has become clearer that World Bank’s strategy and India’s changed policies and laws are based on that strategy with regard to water.
Thus in India people’s right over a natural resource are being snatched away and handed over to global corporate and commercial players. Not only this, the system is now in place to make loot of people through water exploitation. The water, on which people had right till yesterday, has now gone into the hands of corporates. No person or farmer of the land can now use water without paying the cost. Rather in case of any such free use, the user may be sued and in the court. Water related laws have turned the existing and natural laws upside down.
Ruled by greed!
How much loot of Indian people will take place in this water business is not easy to assess now. But some projections can be made today. Those who take water directly from sources for their domestic use or for agricultural purposes are definitely not to pay the least. Only service charges are taken in places where this system is public. Today, service charges for drinking water are nearly 1.5 (one and help paisa) paisa per litre. If this charge is raised two times then the cost of 56 BCM water, which is required for drinking purpose, will go to 1 lack 68 thousand crores rupees (1,68000 crores). Besides this, 12 rupee per bottle and 1.5 rupee per litre canned water are being tried. In this way companies will collect more than 200,000 Crores of Rupees annually from the pockets of the common people. Alongside, the 69 BCM water, required for industries and other similar purposes, will again cost rupees 200,000 crores. If fruits and vegetables growing practices increase and it requires more water, the costing would be nearly rupees 100,000 crores further, annually. Thus, total 500,000 Crores of rupees is set to go to the corporates from common man’s pocket every year. This calculation may differ depending more upon how much companies are charging from the users. Companies’ interest in more and more profit may also influence the use by changing the priorities of using water. More water will go where more profit is at hand.
It seems, the amount of money involved is a good reason for the greedy corporate players and their agent World bank to to influence the whole process of policy making in India to get access to water in the country.
Not only Hungry, Indians to die Thirsty as well
Corporatisation of water may lead to an ironic situation as it squeezes People’s right over water and, on the other hand, the same water is to be sold to them. Increase in the rate of water would trouble Indian masses to a great deal.
But India’s prime minister and an ex-servant of the World Bank Dr Manmohan Singh is also echoing with WB’s dictates that imposing a cost on water use is necessary to check waste of water and its inefficient use. But is it true that three fourth (3/4) of the population who toil hard to earn two square meals are wasting water? Or, those who are affluent make wasteful use of water for a lavish and extravagant living? Is there any example of rich people, using life necessities, make responsible use of these necessities due to their rising cost?
Indians going to bed hungry or, many times, dying hungry while food grains in huge amount do rot in government godowns is a fact known to all. If the designed water policy is implemented and corporate players are allowed to have rightful access to the water resources, the country is to see incidents of thirst deaths of Indians who are unable to afford to a glass of pure water owned by corporate houses.

By Vivekanand

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