Drinking water privatisation
Yet another anti-people act of UPA
By Pramod Kumar
After eating humble pie on the power front when it had to unconditionally rollback the tariff hike, the Congress government of Delhi is going to take another suicidal step that will prove disastrous for both Delhiites and the government itself. The government is all geared up to privatise water supply in Delhi. Interestingly, right from the beginning the government has been issuing misleading statements that it will not privatise water. Recently, some reports were also planted in certain newspapers that the move for water privatisation has been withdrawn. But the fact is that the project is still on and the multinational companies with the help of World Bank, are working round the clock on the project.
The Congress government of Delhi has already announced the appointment of a Regulatory Commission. Delhi Jal Board's(DJB) assets have been evaluated at Rs 81 crore by foreign chartered accountants (CA) under the banner of Price WaterHouse Cooper Company. ?They got the evaluation of the assets done by a foreign company so that secrecy is maintained and things do not come out in the open. The valuation has been done by the same companies that are buying up the DJB. Chartered accountants of India are highly regarded all over the world. But Smt Shiela Dikshit did not find even one CA in the whole country to get the assets of DJB valuated. Naturally, it was done to undervalue the assets,? alleged Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly.
The government has raised the water tariff many folds in Delhi. ?Again this was done for the convenience of those companies that are buying the DJB, so that they do not face any problem thereafter. In advance they have increased the tariff 500 per cent, which is never heard of. It is a complete surrender by DJB and Delhi Government to multinationals. And that too in the hands of such multinational companies, which have been totally rejected and dejected throughout the world. If there is no move to privatise water supply, why has the DJB given a huge office in its own premises to the World Bank and why two zones of south Delhi have been handed over to two companies. The Chief Minister is simply befooling the public. She is going underground for privatisation so that people of Delhi and DJB employees may not agitate,? Prof. Mukhi added.
?They got the evaluation of the assets done by a foreign company so that secrecy is maintained and things do not come out in the open. The evaluation has been done by the same companies that are buying up the DJB. Chartered accountants of India are highly regarded all over the world?.
Experts feel that the government'smuch publicised 24×7 water scheme is a big shun. It is fact that the Congress government has failed to arrange even a single drop of water during the last seven years and there are areas that do not get drinking water even during the rainy season. How is the government going to provide round the clock water, as is being publicised under the 24×7 scheme. This scheme is nothing but a fraud. Experts say even if the DJB supplies the promised water, there is no guarantee that one would get continuous water supply at home. Reason, each zone in Delhi would be divided into several district-metering areas (DMA) under a water company. The performance of the company will be assessed not on the basis of whether one receives round the clock water, or not, but on the basis of whether the water company provides round the clock water at the input point of each DMA. This implies that water instead of reaching residential areas, will be flowing directly to hotels or swimming pools if they happen to be within the same DMA.
Currently, Delhi'sdaily water requirement is 830 MGD. The DJB'swater treatment plants can treat only 680 MGD water. Besides 40 per cent of the total water available is lost on account of leakage and theft and the DJB losses.
The people of Delhi under the banner Delhi Citizen'sFront (DCF), which comprises of thousands of Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs), have threatened to take to the streets against the water privatisation move too. ?Where is the need to bring in foreign experts and pay them fat salaries when there are able people in the country? Is it being done just for a measly Rs 750 crore World Bank loan,? said Dr M.K. Mohanty, Chairman, DCF. ?Whenever we met the Chief Minster she denied any move to privatise water. Fact is that the government is silently following the Price WaterHouse Coopers? report. This report and the World Bank, do not recognise water as the basic necessity. They recognise it as another commodity, which should be sold like any other commodity,? Dr Mohanty added while talking to Organiser. Several RWAs in Delhi have also already declared not to pay their water bills from November 1 if the Delhi government did not withdraw its proposed privatistion move.
There is one more critical fact, about which the government does not seem to have bothered. Groundwater is at an all-time low in Delhi. A recent survey condu-ced by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has revealed that there has been an alarming decline in the Capital'swater table during the last 10 years. According to the CGWB in some south Delhi areas the groundwater level has fallen down by up to 30 meters. Experts warn if adequate steps are not taken now ground water in areas like Vasant Kunj and Tughlaqabad would completely dry up in the next 10 years. South and South-West Delhi are the worst affected. Decrease in natural recharge because of widespread construction activity has resulted in decreasing ground water level.
How serious is the World Bank towards India'swater economy is evident from its recently released report, India'sWater Economy: Bracing for a Turbulent Future, in which it has directly attacked on the country'swater democracy, water culture, people'sright to water and sustainability of India water resources. According to Dr Vandana Shiva, director, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, the World Bank in this report is clearly out to push its agenda for giant trans-national corporations controlling India'swaters through gigantic water projects. It has cited Delhi'smuch publicised Sonia Vihar Plant, which has been privatised to Suez Corporation, as a success story that was serving the people of Delhi. ?The contract for the Sonia Vihar Plant is based on the public utility, DJB, providing free water and electricity to Suez and paying a fine of Rs 50,000 a day to Suez if the bulk supply is not provided. A failed plant has thus become a money generator for the Suez company,? she said, adding that the story is same as is in the case of the Veeranam project that was to bring water from 235 km from Chennai, which has also failed. Yet for the World Bank these are success stories, she added.