PEOPLES DECLARATION AGAINST WATER PRIVATIZATION
We the people representing the Eastern Region of lndia solemnly declare that:
Water is life, it is a gift of nature. The access and right to water is a natural basic right of all living beings.
Water cannot to be treated as a commodity and traded for profit. People shall have the right to freedom from thirst and shall have adequate access to water for all of their sustainable living needs. Water is the sacred common heritage of the people to be nurtured, conserved, used sustainably and shared equitably.
Experiences all over the world reveal quite convincingly that water, which is "life", is being commodified privatized, and brought under corporate control. Water cannot be treated as private property or an asset to be bought and sold.
We reject the water privatization as focused in the new water policies of the nation and states of the eastern region and demand that the community rights should be the foundation of the new water policy.
We condemn the back door privatization through Jala and Pani Panchayats. Pani Panchayat was the name for democratic control over water. During the 1980s the Pam Panchayat movement in the State of Maharashtra conserved water and fought the drought. But the DFID has hijacked this effort implying community control to privatize water sources.
Exploitation of water sources for luxurious life styles, unsustainable agricultural farming (use of fertilizers polluting water and high intensity water use for cash crops), polluting industries, water mining for trade and captive surface water reservoirs for industrial use should be banned.
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.
We demand rights for access and availability of water and another sources of life to be vested with the communities for equitable distribution and their sustainab1e use.
We condemn the proposal of the non conventional method in the National Water Policy of utilization of water through inter Basin transfers which has been interpreted by the national government to propose the National River Linking project: This harebrain dream, if it, ever becomes a reality then we should be prepared to face accelerated and erratic climate change, man made desertification, water logging areas, floods, cyclones and degradation of water resources.
We demand that the Government all over the world take immediate action to declare that they accept water in their territories as a public good and enact strong regulatory structure to protect them.
We will work together to liberate water from corporate / private agencies control and make it a people's source of life of common good with following objects.
To educate and mobilize the people regarding water privatization.
To declare local] water sources as community sources and put up sign boards.
To prevent Government or private, from extracting water to make it a commodity for profit.
To lobby with MPs and MLAs not to support privatization of water and other sources of livelihood.
To form Peoples Resistance and Pressure groups to prevent the entry of resource/water pirates and work towards communities control.
To encourage and support traditional equitable management systems of resources.
To exchange better ideas and actions of the Communities on sustainable use of water and other resource management.
To provide relevant information to the communities so that informed decisions are made.
To prepare a People's Alternative Water Policy involving the communities.
To build up a nation wide movement against privatization of water.
We the people from Eastern Region of India will not allow our waters and sources of livelihood to be made a commodity for profit of corporate and private agencies.
The People of Eastern India
(Eastern Regional Consultation against Water Privatization held at Bhubaneswar Orissa, on 11th & 12th November 2003)
THE CRISIS OF WATER IN INDIA
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
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.
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.
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!
Cited in the Jal Swaraj Abhijan (Campaign for water liberation) a primer on this issue produced by Navdanya'