We the people representing the Eastern Region of lndia solemnly declare that:

We condemn the dictates of the International Financial institutions (lFls) and their allies (World Bank, IMF, ADB, JIBC, DFID, UNDP, ODA, USAID) influencing the national and of natural sources like the land forests and Water. May be in the future air which is already sold as oxygen parks and bars affordable by the minorities sending a feeling that these IFIs even will not hesitate to privatize the shit of the living beings in the future.

The People of Eastern India

(Eastern Regional Consultation against Water Privatization held at Bhubaneswar Orissa, on 11th & 12th November 2003) 



In India the water situation is steadily worsening. The average annual per capita fresh water availability has come down to 1869 cubic meters in the year 2000, from 5000 c metres in 1950.

Overall, India might not fall under the "water scarcity" category, it would definitely be water stressed by 2025. Though the average water availability looks comfortable upto 2025, the water scarcity condition (availability less than 1000 cu meters per annum) already exists in 8 of the 20 major river basins in the country: Pennar, East flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanyakumari, Cauvery, West flowing rivers of Kutch and Saurasthatra including Luni, Sabarmati, Tapi, Mahi and East flowing rivers between Mahanadi and Godavari. Some of these regions suffer absolute water scarcity', with availability below 500 cu meters.

A major ground water crisis is also unfolding as ground water in is continuously being unsustainably exploited especially in states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.1 And large dams are being built among all major rivers to provide water to non-sustainable cities.2
In around 15 States, underground water levels have been falling at the rate of about 5 per cent per year. It would take just 2,600 additional tube wells, running at an average of 10 hours per day, to exhaust the entire reserve of underground water in Delhi.
According to the TATA Energy Research Institute, about 91 per cent of the available freshwater is consumed by the agriculture sector, while the share of industry and domestic sectors is a small 4 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Moreover, the imposition in the 70s of the Green Revolution model of agricultural development with its water-intensive system has also exacerbated the critical state of the country's water resources. The expansion of areas under cultivation has also led to the digging of more and more private wells for groundwater. At the national level, only 8 per cent of the groundwater sources have been utilised out of 85 per cent of their potential.
This however, does not reflect the disparities that exist between regions. Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are the states where water tables have declined steeply. The percentage of area where groundwater sources have been exploited by over 85 per cent has increased 3-fold in a span of 10 years. Additionally, groundwater has been exploited to the extent of 98 percent in Punjab, 80 percent in Haryana, 62 per cent in Rajasthan and 54 percent in Tamil Nadu. The area irrigated by groundwater in Punjab, UP and Haryana is over 61, 57, and 48 percent respectively. Interestingly, it is the agriculturally important states that are witnessing the falling of water tables due to their heavy dependence on irrigation.

The national cost of fetching water is 150 million women days each year causing a national loss of over Rs 10 billion each year. In addition, 90 million work days are lost every year due to water borne diseases.

80% of the children of India suffer from water-borne diseases and 7,00,000 of them die every year. An additional 44 million people suffer from problems related to water quality- the presence of fluoride, nitrate, arsenic and salinity.3

When billions go without fresh water, the North consumes 1,300 gallons of water per person not that water inequality exists only within such divisions but in all societies and states in the South as well.

For instance, Water is now the No.1 problem in urban India as seen in Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Three crore people, or every third person in the state, today depend on tankers for their daily supply. In cities like Mumbai water-sport amusement-parks e.g. Essel World, Water Kingdom, plus 5-Star Tourist Hotels and golf courses are consuming prodigious amounts of water. The municipality also supplies 2,540 m. litres each day --un-equally --between the elite and the poor. In case of shortage, tanker water supplies 25 m. litres every day to the urban elite. Tankers come from place like Nala Sopara, resulting in local residents having to bear the brunt of acute scarcity. The elite also have access to bottled water with privateers like Kinley (owned by Coca Cola) using up fresh water from Vaitarna Lake equivalent to the daily requirement of 75,000 villagers.

Bottled water has become big business as corporates have capitalized on water scarcity, providing bottled water to the urban elite. The AIl-India market is Rs.8 b. and lOb. and growing at the rate of nearly 40 per cent per annum. The Indian corporate, Parle, has the largest share (Rs.2.5 b) of the market led by Bisleri.

Whilst the elite can afford bottled water, for millions of poor families who cannot water has become an extremely precious and scarce need. Little wonder, then, long distance treks to search for water is very common and households spend 20 per cent of their income on water. Most affected are women who are the major water carriers with even young girls as young as 10 forced to provide the family with water, walking 4 to 5 km to collect it. There are cases where these girls have experienced damage of the neck and spine. Many stay out of school to carry this and other household chores. Apart from this, in Mumbai, according to a survey the average distance to a tap in an average slum settlement is about 70 metres and 1.5 hours (on an average) are spent on queuing at the tap. Consequently, 82% of the respondents reported getting an insufficient amount of water and 65% reported frequent failure of even this amount. This tenuous and unreliable public tap is however, the main source of drinking water for 77% of the population.

Indeed, the urban elite get 10 times more water than slum dwellers. Because the poor lack access to publicly subsidized utilities, they often end up paying more for their water than the elite because they must get it from private vendors or even illegally.

The distribution of water is also very unequal, both within countries and among different states. This is a potential source of conflict. Already in several parts of the world conflicts have arisen as between Palestinians and Israelis, between India and Bangladesh. Another example would be the sharing of the water of the River Kaveri between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has flared up into a major political issue disrupting social and community life.

According to all FAO study, India will be able to support 1038 m. people against a projected population of 1036 m. provided low-levels of inputs -low-yielding varieties, no chemical fertilizers, long [allow-periods, high labour and low-energy intensity, subsistence production, etc., are adopted. The study highlights the fact that India's population problem, in terms of food needs, is not an insurmountable one. The real problem lies in the government and people's ability to manage two basic productive resources, viz., soil and water. In other words, India's water resources are capable of supporting the maximum number of people provided (again) these resources used in a prudent and in a sustainable manner.

  1. Such exploitation has reached 100% in some districts. For instance in Mehsana, Gujarat the rate of ground water exploitation has increased by 145% between 1984 -1992.

  2. For instance the Tehri dam which is destroying the ecology of the Himalayas and the means of survival for thousands of people is only one among the 10 dams to be built upon the Ganga to provide water for just one city -Delhi!

  3. Cited in the Jal Swaraj Abhijan (Campaign for water liberation) a primer on this issue produced by Navdanya'