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Say no to water privatisation and commodification

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Say no to water supply privatization / privatisation and commodification of water as an economic good
Created on: Wed, Feb 22, 2012 7:55 hrs
Last Update: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 10:30 hours IST

Draft National Water Policy (2012) - Ministry of Water Resources - Govt. of India - PDF File - 115 KB -17 Pages

Access to safe water and basic sanitation is a legal entitlement / right / guarantee / obligation, rather than a commodity.

UN resolution passed during the United Nations Water Conference in 1977 isas under:
"All people, whatever their stage of development and their social and economic conditions, have the right to have access to drinking water in quantum and of a quality equal to their basic needs."

Ms. de Albuquerque (UN Independent Expert) after wrapping up a nine-day official visit to Japan on July 28, 2010praisedit for its nearly universal access to water and sanitation and for its use of innovative technologies to promote hygiene and treat wastewater.

How did Paris remunicipalise its water services? The benefits of public ownership.

Paris: An example of how local authorities can regain control of water management - (PDF 295 KB, 07 Pages)

The right to a basic supply of water is also explicitly recognised in Article 14(2)(h) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), (which entered into force on 03 Sep 1981).

Additionally, Article 24(2)(c) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (02 Sep 1990) recognises the State's obligation to provide "adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water" to combat disease and malnutrition.

More recently, Article 28(2)(a) of the 2010 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) specifically requires States to "ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services".

The Right to Water: A Constitutional Perspective - International Environmental Law Research Centre (IELRC) Workshop - Jayna Kothari - PDF File - 109 KB 13 Pages
In India, the Right to water has been protected as a fundamental human right by the Hon'ble Indian Supreme Court (SC) as part of the Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.

In India, the constitutional right to access to clean drinking water can be drawn from the right to food, the right to clean environment and the right to health, all of which have been protected under the broad rubric of the Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution.

Article 39 (b) of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP):
The Indian Constitution declares to be nonjusticiable, recognizes the principle of equal access to the material resources of the community. Article 39 (b) mandates that 'the State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good.

The Hon'ble Indian Supreme Court (SC) also referred to the Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs. Union Of India and Others judgment on 18/10/2000 where Hon'ble Justice Kirpal, J. observed that " Water is the basic need for the survival of human beings and is part of right of life and human rights as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and can be served only by providing source of water where there is none. The Resolution of the U.N.O. in 1977 to which India is a signatory, during the United Nations Water Conference resolved unanimously inter alia as under:
All people, whatever their stage of development and their social and economic conditions, have the right to have access to drinking water in quantum and of a quality equal to their basic needs.

Importantly, in its judgment of Vellore Citizens' Welfare Forum Vs. Union of India & Ors. on 28/08/1996 the Hon'ble Indian Supreme Court (SC) held that "The constitutional and statutory provisions protect a person's right to fresh air, clean water and pollution-free environment, but the source of the right is the inalienable common law right of clean environment."

TheHon'ble IndianSupreme Court has, in the context of water pollution, mandated the cleaning up of water sources including rivers, the coastline and even tanks and wells. The concern over pollution of ground water by unregulated discharge of effluents has led the court to issue mandatory directions for clean up by the polluter and restitution of the soil and ground water.

In M.C. Mehta Vs. Kamal Nath & Ors. judgment on 13/12/1996 the Hon'ble Indian Supreme Court (SC) declared that 'our (Indian) legal system - based on English common law - includes the public trust doctrine as part of its jurisprudence. The State is the trustee of all natural resources which are by nature meant for public use and enjoyment. Public at large is the beneficiary of the seashore, running waters, air, forests and ecologically fragile lands. The State as a trustee is under a legal duty to protect the natural resources. These resources meant for public use cannot be converted into private ownership.

Top 10 reasons to oppose water privatization- PDF File 118.9 KB - 02 Pages
The World Bankhas predicted that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will run short of fresh drinking water. Given such a grim outlook, it comes as little surprise that Fortune magazinerecently defined water as "the oil of the 21st century." Poised to capitalize on this crisis are private companies, many of which are multinationals whose tentacles are probing the planet for opportunities to turn the misery of water-starved regions into profits for their executives and stockholders.

Instead of protecting existing supplies, enhancing conservation efforts, helping vulnerable populations, curbing pollution and raising public awareness, more and more government officials throughout the world are turning to privatization - transferring the control of this precious resource from the public sector to the private sector. It is no underestimation to say that the very survival of untold millions of people could rest on decisions being made today - largely behind closed doors - in corporate boardrooms and government offices throughout the world. With each drop of water that falls into the hands of private interests, any sustainable solution to the global water crisis moves further and further from the public's grasp.

01) Privatization Leads to Rate Increases
Corporations have utilized rate hikes to maximize profits, which, by definition, is their bottom line. This bottom line often comes at the expense of water quality and customer service, but not at the expense of maintaining inflated executive salaries. Among the more unseemly aspects of handling water as a marketable commodity, rather than a basic human need and a natural resource, is that the poor are often denied access. Because living without water is not an option, people are often forced to consume unsafe water, lest be faced with going without food, medicine or education.

02) Privatization Undermines Water Quality
Because corporate agendas are driven by profits rather than the public good, privatization usually results in the compromising of environmental standards. The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC)which represents the U.S. private water industry, intensively and perennially lobbies Congress and the Environmental Protection Agencyto refrain from adopting higher water quality standards. The NAWC also persistently requests that all federal regulations be based on sound cost-benefit analysis, which means that public health is compromised for the sake of higher profits.

03) Companies Are Accountable to Shareholders, Not Consumers
In many cases, deals that government agencies make with water companies include exclusive distribution rights for 25 to 30 years, effectively sanctioning a monopoly. Companies are under little pressure to respond to customer concerns, especially when the product in question is not a luxury item that families can do without even if they are dissatisfied with the performance of the only provider.

04) Privatization Fosters Corruption
The very structures of privatization encourage corruption. Checks and balances that could prevent corruption, such as accountability and transparency, are missing at every step of the process, from bidding on a contract to delivering water. Contracts are usually worked out behind closed doors with the details often still kept secret after the contract is signed, even though it is the public that will be directly affected by the conditions of the contract. This situation opens itself up to bribery, which, if recent scandals throughout the world are any indication, is not an uncommon occurrence.

05) Privatization Reduces Local Control and Public Rights
When water services are privatized, very little can be done to ensure that the company - be it domestic, foreign or transnational - will work in the best interest of the community. Furthermore, if a community is dissatisfied with the performance of the company, buying back the water rights is a very difficult and costly proposition. Again, the prime directive of the water companies is to maximize profits, not protect consumers.

06) Private Financing Costs More than Public Financing
There is a false perception that when water services are privatized, the financial burden will shift from the public to the private sector, which will save taxpayer /taxpayers' money by assuming the costs of repairing, upgrading and maintaining infrastructure. In reality, taxpayers simply wind up paying for these projects through their monthly bills. Tax-free public financing translates into lower-cost projects, while taxable private financing results in higher interest rates. As a result, consumers are also forced to make these higher payments on company loans.

07) Privatization Leads to Job Losses
Massive layoffs often follow in the wake of privatization, as companies try to minimize costs and increase profits. At times, service and water quality are put at risk due to understaffing. As a result, layoffs can be devastating not only to the workers and their families, but to consumers as well.

08) Privatization is Difficult to Reverse
Once a government agency hands over its water system to a private company, withdrawing from the agreement borders on the impossible. Proving breach of contract is a difficult and costly ordeal. And multinational trade agreements provide corporations with powerful legal recourse. A private company, for example, can use the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA's) secretive tribunals to contest challenges to privatization. And in World Bank (WB) loan deals, which often makes water privatization a condition, companies are usually guaranteed cash payments if a government agency returns its water system to public control.

09) Privatization Can Leave the Poor with No Access to Clean Water
Contrary to public assertions, World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) privatization schemes in the developing world usually result in reduced access to water for the poor. "Structural adjustment" programs foisted upon governments seeking loans often include water privatization as a condition. Impoverished, politically enfeebled countries are hardly in a position to refuse these conditions, as doing so would cause them to default on their debts. As a result, the World Bank (WB) and IMF are able to provide lucrative and virtually risk-free contracts for multinationals, due to guaranteed rates of return and investment protection clauses.

10) Privatization Would Open the Door for Bulk Water Exports
Fully aware of bleak water supply prognostications (foretelling/predicting future events), corporations are in a mad dash to obtain access to fresh water that they can sell at huge profits, as high as 35 percent. It goes without saying that those who control water supplies will exercise economic and political power at almost unimaginable degrees. Bulk water exports - transporting water from water-rich countries to water-poor countries - could have disastrous consequences. Massive extraction of water from its natural sources can result in ecological imbalance and destruction. Disrupting aquifers by overextraction often damages the environment and socioeconomic standards. Groundwater is being over-extracted as it is, and once aquifers are emptied or polluted, they are almost impossible to restore.

General Comment No. 15 (November 2002)
I. Introduction
1. Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.

The legal bases/basis of the right to water
2. The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses. An adequate amount of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration, to reduce the risk of water-related disease and to provide for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygienic requirements.

3. Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Covenant specifies a number of rights emanating from, and indispensable for, the realization of the right to an adequate standard of living "including adequate food, clothing and housing". The right to water is one of the most fundamental conditions for survival. It should also be seen in conjunction with other rights enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights, foremost amongst them the right to life and human dignity.

4. Article 14, paragraph 2, of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) stipulates that States parties shall ensure to women the right to "enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to water supply".

Article 24, paragraph 2, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) requires States parties to combat disease and malnutrition "through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water".

6. Priority in the allocation of water must be given to the right to water for personal and domestic uses. Priority should also be given to the water resources required to prevent starvation and disease.

II. Normative content of the right to water
11. The elements of the right to water must be adequate for human dignity, life and health, in accordance with articles 11, paragraph 1, and 12. The adequacy of water should not be interpreted narrowly, by mere reference to volumetric quantities and technologies. Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic good.

12. While the adequacy of water required for the right to water may vary according to different conditions, the following factors apply in all circumstances:

(a) Availability.
The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene. The quantity of water available for each person should correspond to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Some individuals and groups may also require additional water due to health, climate, and work conditions;

(b) Quality.
The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person's health. Furthermore, water should be of an acceptable colour, odour and taste for each personal or domestic use.

("Continuous" means that the regularity of the water supply is sufficient for personal and domestic uses. Drinking means water for consumption through beverages and foodstuffs. "Food preparation" includes food hygiene and preparation of food stuffs, whether water is incorporated into, or comes into contact with, food.)

(c) Accessibility.
Water and water facilities and services have to be accessible to everyone without discrimination, within the jurisdiction of the State party. Accessibility has four overlapping dimensions:

(i) Physical accessibility: Water, and adequate water facilities and services, must be within safe physical reach for all sections of the population. Sufficient, safe and acceptable water must be accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity, of each household, educational institution and workplace. All water facilities and services must be of sufficient quality, culturally appropriate and sensitive to gender, lifecycle and privacy requirements. Physical security should not be threatened during access to water facilities and services;

(ii) Economic accessibility:
Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all. The direct and indirect costs and charges associated with securing water must be affordable, and must not compromise or threaten the realization of other Covenant rights;

(iii) Non-discrimination:
Water and water facilities and services must be accessible to all, including the most vulnerable or marginalized sections of the population, in law and in fact, without discrimination on any of the prohibited grounds; and

(iv) Information accessibility:
Accessibility includes the right to seek, receive and impart information concerning water issues.

(Household includes a permanent or semi-permanent dwelling, or a temporary halting site.)

Special topics of broad application

Non-discrimination and equality
16. In particular, States parties should take steps to ensure that:

(a) Women are not excluded from decision-making processes concerning water resources and entitlements. The disproportionate burden women bear in the collection of water should be alleviated;

(b) Children are not prevented from enjoying their human rights due to the lack of adequate water in educational institutions and households or through the burden of collecting water.

(c) No household should be denied the right to water on the grounds of their housing or land status.

III. States parties' obligations

Specific legal obligations
20. The right to water, like any human right, imposes three types of obligations on States parties: obligations to respect, obligations to protect and obligations to fulfil.

(a) Obligations to respect
21. The obligation to respect requires that States parties refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the enjoyment of the right to water. The obligation includes, inter alia, refraining from engaging in any practice or activity that denies or limits equal access to adequate water; arbitrarily interfering with customary or traditional arrangements for water allocation; unlawfully diminishing or polluting water, for example through waste from State-owned facilities, and limiting access water services and infrastructure as a punitive measure.

(b) Obligations to protect
23. The obligation to protect requires State parties to prevent third parties from interfering in any way with the enjoyment of the right to water.

(c) Obligations to fulfil
25. (Full para)

26. The obligation includes ensuring that water is affordable for everyone; and facilitating improved and sustainable access to water.

27. To ensure that water is affordable, States parties must adopt the necessary measures that may include, inter alia: (a) use of a range of appropriate low-cost techniques and technologies; (b) appropriate pricing policies such as free or low-cost water; and (c) income supplements. Any payment for water services has to be based on the principle of equity, ensuring that these services, are affordable for all, including socially disadvantaged groups.

28. States parties should adopt comprehensive and integrated strategies and programmes to ensure that there is sufficient and safe water.
These/They may include:
(a) reducing depletion of water resources through unsustainable extraction, diversion and damming;
(b) reducing and eliminating contamination of watersheds and water-related eco-systems by substances such as radiation, harmful chemicals and human excreta;
(c) monitoring water reserves;
(d) ensuring that proposed developments do not interfere with access to adequate water;
(e) assessing the impacts of actions that may impinge upon water availability and natural-ecosystems watersheds, such as climate changes, desertification and increased soil salinity, deforestation and loss of biodiversity;
(f) increasing the efficient use of water by end-users;
(g) reducing water wastage in its distribution
(h) response mechanisms for emergency situations;
(i) and establishing competent institutions and appropriate institutional arrangements to carry out the strategies and programmes.

29. Ensuring that everyone has access to adequate sanitation is not only fundamental for human dignity and privacy, but is one of the principal mechanisms for protecting the quality of drinking water supplies and resources.

International obligations
33. Steps should be taken by States parties to prevent their own citizens and companies from violating the right to water of individuals and communities in other countries.

35. Agreements concerning trade liberalization should not curtail or inhibit a country's capacity to ensure the full realization of the right to water.

Core obligations
37.(a) To ensure access to the minimum essential amount of water, that is sufficient and safe for personal and domestic uses to prevent disease;

(b) To ensure the right of access to water and water facilities and services on a non-discriminatory basis, especially for disadvantaged or marginalized groups;

(c) To ensure physical access to water facilities or services that provide sufficient, safe and regular water; that have a sufficient number of water outlets to avoid prohibitive waiting times; and that are at a reasonable distance from the household;

(d) To ensure personal security is not threatened when having to physically access to water;

(e) To ensure equitable distribution of all available water facilities and services;

(f) To adopt and implement a national water strategy and plan of action addressing the whole population; the strategy and plan of action should be devised, and periodically reviewed, on the basis of a participatory and transparent process; it should include methods, such as right to water indicators and benchmarks, by which progress can be closely monitored; the process by which the strategy and plan of action are devised, as well as their content, shall give particular attention to all disadvantaged or marginalized groups;

(g) To monitor the extent of the realization, or the non-realization, of the right to water;

(h) To adopt relatively low-cost targeted water programmes to protect vulnerable and marginalized groups;

(i) To take measures to prevent, treat and control diseases linked to water, in particular ensuring access to adequate sanitation;

IV. Violations
40. In accordance with international law, a failure to act in good faith to take such steps amounts to a violation of the right.

43. Violations through acts of omission include the failure to take appropriate steps towards the full realization of everyone's right to water, the failure to have a national policy on water, and the failure to enforce relevant laws.

44. (a) Violations of the obligation to respect follow from the State party's interference with the right to water.

This includes, inter alia:

(i) arbitrary or unjustified disconnection or exclusion from water services or facilities;

(ii) discriminatory or unaffordable increases in the price of water; and

(iii) pollution and diminution of water resources affecting human health;

(b) Violations of the obligation to protect follow from the failure of a State to take all necessary measures to safeguard persons within their jurisdiction from infringements of the right to water by third parties.

This includes, inter alia:

(i) failure to enact or enforce laws to prevent the contamination and inequitable extraction of water;

(ii) failure to effectively regulate and control water services providers;

(iv) failure to protect water distribution systems (e.g., piped networks and wells) from interference, damage and destruction; and

(c) Violations of the obligation to fulfil occur through the failure of States parties to take all necessary steps to ensure the realization of the right to water.

Examples includes, inter alia:

(i) failure to adopt or implement a national water policy designed to ensure the right to water for everyone;

(ii) insufficient expenditure or misallocation of public resources which results in the non-enjoyment of the right to water by individuals or groups, particularly the vulnerable or marginalized;

(iii) failure to monitor the realization of the right to water at the national level, for example by identifying right-to-water indicators and benchmarks;

(iv) failure to take measures to reduce the inequitable distribution of water facilities and services;

(v) failure to adopt mechanisms for emergency relief;

(vi) failure to ensure that the minimum essential level of the right is enjoyed by everyone

(vii) failure of a State to take into account its international legal obligations regarding the right to water when entering into agreements with other States or with international organizations.

V. Implementation at the National Level
45. The Covenant imposes a duty on each State party to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that everyone enjoys the right to water, as soon as possible. Any national measures designed to realize the right to water should not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights.

Legislation, strategies and policies
46. Existing legislation, strategies and policies should be reviewed to ensure that they are compatible with obligations arising from the right to water, and should be repealed, amended or changed if inconsistent with Covenant requirements.

47. The duty to take steps clearly imposes on States parties an obligation to adopt a national strategy or plan of action to realize the right to water.

The strategy must:

(a) be based upon human rights law and principles;

(b) cover all aspects of the right to water and the corresponding obligations of States parties;

(c) define clear objectives;

(d) set targets or goals to be achieved and the time-frame for their achievement;

(e) formulate adequate policies and corresponding benchmarks and indicators with theinstitutional responsibility andaccountability.

48. (Full para)

49. The national water strategy and plan of action should also be based on the principles of accountability, transparency and independence of the judiciary, since good governance is essential to the effective implementation of all human rights, including the realization of the right to water.

50. States parties may find it advantageous to adopt framework legislation to operationalize their right to water strategy.

Such legislation should include:

(a) targets or goals to be attained and the time-frame for their achievement;

(b) the means by which the purpose could be achieved;

(d) institutional responsibility for the process;

(e) national mechanisms for its monitoring; and

(f) remedies and recourse procedures.

51. Steps should be taken to ensure there is sufficient coordination between the national ministries, regional and local authorities in order to reconcile water-related policies. Where implementation of the right to water has been delegated to regional or local authorities, the State party still retains the responsibility to comply with its Covenant obligations.

52. (Full para)

Remedies and accountability
55. Any persons or groups who have been denied their right to water should have access to effective judicial or other appropriate remedies at both national and international levels. All victims of violations of the right to water should be entitled to adequate reparation, including restitution, compensation, satisfaction or guarantees of non-repetition. National ombudsmen, human rights commissions, and similar institutions should be permitted to address violations of the right.

56. Before any action that interferes with an individual's right to water is carried out by the State party, or by any other third party, the relevant authorities must ensure that such actions are performed in a manner warranted by law, compatible with the Covenant, and that comprises:

(a) opportunity for genuine consultation with those affected;

(b) timely and full disclosure of information on the proposed measures;

(c) reasonable notice of proposed actions;

(d) legal recourse and remedies for those affected; and

(e) legal assistance for obtaining legal remedies. Where such action is based on a person's failure to pay for water their capacity to pay must be taken into account. Under no circumstances shall an individual be deprived of the minimum essential level of water.

57 and 58 (full paras)

59. States parties should respect, protect, facilitate and promote the work of human rights advocates and other members of civil society with a view to assisting vulnerable or marginalized groups in the realization of their right to water.

UN General Assembly Resolution 64/292 (human right to water and sanitation) of 28 July 2010
It acknowledged/acknowledges the importance of equitable access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as an integral component of the realization of all human rights.

It reaffirmed/reaffirms the responsibility of States for the promotion and protection of all human rights, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and must be treated globally, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis.

It aims to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.

The target of UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 aims to "halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation".

Uses of water
The Centre, the States and the local bodies (governance institutions) must/should please/kindly ensure access to potable water for essential health and hygiene to all its citizens, available within easy reach of the household. Since water is required for the very survival of human beings and ecosystem it must/should not and never be used/made/commodified as an economic good. Higher priority should be given towards basic livelihood support to the poor and ensuring national food security.

Water pricing
Water must/should not/never be treated as an economic good and therefore, must/should not be priced on the pretext of promoting its efficient use and maximizing value from water. The existing practice of administered prices must/should please/kindly be continued, economic (market economy) principles must/should not/never guide the administered prices.

Water tariff system and fixing the criteria for water charges, after ascertaining the views of the beneficiary public must/should be based on the principle that the water charges shall not/never reflect the full recovery of the cost of administration, operation and maintenance of water resources projects even after taking into account the cross subsidy/subsidies, if any.

Recycle and reuse of water, after treatment to specified standards, may please/kindly be encouraged.

Water Users'/Consumers' Associations must/should not/never be given statutory/constitutional powers to collect and retain a portion of water charges, manage the volumetric quantum of water allotted to them and maintain the distribution system in their jurisdiction.

Heavy under-pricing of electricity does not necessarily lead to wasteful use of both electricity and water if Transmission and Distribution losses in electricity management are minimised / minimized.

Preservation of river corridors, water bodies and infrastructure
Encroachments and diversion of water bodies (like rivers, lakes, tanks, ponds, etc.) and drainage channels (irrigated area as well as urban area drainage) must not be allowed, and wherever it has taken place, it should be restored. Environmental needs of aquatic eco-system, wet lands and embanked flood plains need to be recognized and taken into consideration while planning.

Sources of water and water bodies should not be allowed to get polluted. System of third party periodic inspection should be evolved and heavy penalty should be imposed on the basis of polluter pays principle. The money recovered from penalty may be put in a fund for facilitating water treatment.

Project planning and implementation
Local governing bodies like Panchayats/Panchayaths, Municipalities, Corporations, etc., and Water Users'/Consumers' Associations must/should please/kindly be involved in planning and implementation of the projects.

Resettlement & rehabilitation
The cost of rehabilitation and compensation to the project affected families should not/never be borne by project benefited families through this so-called adequate pricing of water but should be borne entirely by the state only.

Institutional arrangements
The "Service Provider" role of the state must/should not/never be gradually shifted to that of a regulator of services and facilitator on the pretext of strengthening the institutions responsible for planning, implementation and management of water resources. The water related services should not/never be transferred to community and / or private sector with/without the "Public Private Partnership (PPP)" model.

Exclusion of underground drainage / sewage / sewerage charges from water bills
The civic bodies / municipalities must/should kindly/please exclude the drainage charges from the water bills as charging for sanitation / underground drainage (UGD) in the water bills is not rational and logical. For instance the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) introduced it as 8.33% of the water bill in January 2008 and hiked it to 12.5% in March 2008. On Jul 2008 it was hiked to 17%. On May 2011 it was hiked to 20% and in July 2011 it was hiked to 25%. These repeated / repetitive hikes coincide exactly with the start of the MCC's Public Private Partnership (PPP) with JUSCO and the release of the crores of JNNUM funds to the MCC in instalments by the centre/GoI as grants.

35 children fall sick in Siddarthanagar - Star of Mysore, Thursday, May 12, 2011
Is contaminated water the cause?

Contaminated water: Many take ill - Deccan Herald, Friday, May 13, 2011

Contaminated water triggers anxiety among residents in Mysore - Deccan Herald, Sunday, September 18, 2011

Contaminated water collected in bottles at Saraswathipuram in Mysore City on Saturday, September 17, 2011- DH Photo

KRS (Krishna Raja Sagar Dam) may have reached its brim, but water related woes refuse to die. However, this time it's not about irregular supply, but contaminated water flowing from taps causing anxiety among the Mysoreresidents.

Citizens supplied with muddy water
- Star of Mysore, Friday, December 23, 2011
Mahajana Layout residents blame JUSCO

Residents here woke up to muddy water in tap - Deccan Herald, Mysore, Saturday, December 24, 2011
Mud mixed drinking water flowed out from taps owing to damaged pipeline

Dirty Water: A resident shows contaminated drinking water collected in the sump in Mysore City on Friday, December 23, 2011. Top left: A bucket full of muddy drinking water. - DH Photo
When Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company (JUSCO) Limited went on a trial at Vijayanagar in the Mysore city on Friday, December 23, 2011 little did they know they would be in for trouble.

MCC to complain against JUSCO at UD meeting in Delhi - Deccan Herald, Mysore, Saturday, February 18, 2012
Mysore City Corporation (MCC) to complain against JUSCO at Urban Development (UD) meeting in Delhi
Officers allege company is behind set target in 24x7 water supply

Congress protest against minister Ramdas - Deccan Herald, Mysore, Friday, March 02, 2012
Blames district administration for failure of JnNurm project in Mysore city
Protest rally and a demonstration in front of Command Area Development Authority (CADA) on Thu, March 01 to demand adequate water supply and cleanliness in the city.

Water Woes: Women with empty pots take out a procession as a part of the protest against the Karnataka State Government. - DH Photo

Let water, not profits, flow - Opinion >> Editorial The Hindu, Saturday, February 4, 2012
Private sector water services have clearly failed in many countries and local governments have taken over again. In the current year (2012), for-profit private water companies in England are raising tariffs, while the publicly-owned service in Scotland is not. Just over a decade ago, water wars in Bolivia reversed privatisation moves. Evidently, private partnership imposes the burden of extra costs.

Oppose Water Privatisation in Karnataka
The contents of the Karnataka specific petition titled Oppose Water Privatisation in Karnatakahave been modified fortheir applicability at the national (all India) level.

The Government of India (GoI) unfortunately continues/seems to support the policy of Commodification and Privatisation of Water in complete disregard and contravention of the Constitutional Guarantee of Right of Access to Water as an integral part of the Right to Live.

Private companies are intending to exploit business opportunities to provide "water for personal consumption and for industrial use".

Commodification of water with the participation of State agencies attacks Constitutional Guarantees.

Government agencies and their capitalisticsupporters claim that the protestors are confused about their understanding of the nature of water privatization and that "there is a distinct difference between privatization and private participation". They are attempting to promote the view that protestors' concerns are unreasonable and untenable (unable to be maintained or defended against attack or objection) although realisticfacts speak differently and unambiguously/incontrovertibly.

Draft National Water Policy 2012 Promotes Water Privatisation Unconstitutionally

Basic objective of this Draft National Water Policy, 2012 is to "ensure water and sanitation services that people want and are willing to pay for".

In a country/state with a majority of the urban population being poor, people do not want to and cannot afford to pay for drinking water. They're coerced to pay out of sheer necessity should never have been used as a basis for arguing in favour of willingness to pay.

Based on such spurious and unsubstantiated claims, parastatal and publicly unaccountable agencies acrossIndia have been systematically promoting projects that privatise supply of drinking water. Without any substantive debate, or deliberate, prior and informed consent, these agencies have coerced Municipal Councils / Corporations into agreeing to privatise drinking water services, to the detriment of the community, especially the poor.

The policy also promotes the role of the State to be one of organizing bulk water resources so that the distribution of drinking water would be parcelled out to the private sector based on "commercial viability of operations to recover from the users of water the full cost of providing service". This with the clear and categorical intent of establishing an "appropriate cost recovery mechanism through adequate tariff to ensure that revenues cover operations and maintenance costs, debt service plus a reasonable return on capital" favouring the private investor. With such a sweet deal there is absolutely no business risk to invest in the "water market" as the State absorbs all such costs.

Private Companies are out to make money out of Peoples/People's Drinking Water needs. A fundamental life sustaining resource like water is now being perceived by private companies as an excellentbusiness opportunity.

The Draft National Water Policy 2012 that paves way for illegal efforts to take overIndian water, and commodify and trade withIndians' life sustaining resources and our publiccommons should be repealed.

The Indian citizens / people / residents can solve their water problems without privatisation with political will and transparency. The Karnataka State Council of Science and Technology (KSCST) (in India) rainwater proofed 16,000 public schools (a world record), and thus provided drinking water. The Indian people / citizens / residents have all the skill, capacity and traditional knowledge of harvesting rain. If only the Government were to come down heavily on polluters everywhere (on the polluter pays principle), it is only a matter of years before the Indian rivers, lakes and village ponds will/would be brimming with clean water. If the Government introduced a strong legislation to regulate the ongoing reckless mining of ground and surface water resources by water mafias, and not support anyone in the government who are engaged in this criminal trade, not only would this build water security but the trust of Indianpeople as well.

There is sufficient intelligence and capacity withinIndian communities to build water security, and thereby social and ecological security. Government needs to establish constitutionally mandated District and Metropolitan Planning Committees based on representation from local elected bodies and other local expertise and act in a publicly accountable, transparent and representative manner in planning the utilisation of natural resource as required per the Nagarapalika (Corporation / Municipal) Act. Such bodies in collaboration with local elected municipal bodies must be entrusted with the task of deciding matters relating to provisioning of the drinking water needs for all. Consequently, agencies whose main intent seems to be to recklessly and criminally pave the way for private water corporations to make money out of the life sustaining resource like water, must be abolished.

Petition Signers' / Signatories' demands:
1. It is the constitutional responsibility of the State as Custodian to protect water as our publiccommons. In addition, the State must promote policies and practices that advance equity in access and distribution of water based on sound principle of ecological and social justice.

2. The State must/should kindly/please own up and undertake its obligatory functions of providing safe drinking water for all as per the Constitution of India.

3. The Operation and Maintenance (O and M) of water services in Hubli, Dharwad, Belgaum and Gulbarga has been undemocratically handed over to Veolia, a multi-national French company. The entire water services in Mysore have also been given away to JUSCO, a TATA Company. Such privatisation practices must/should immediately be remunicipalised. Consequently, India must/should kindly/please put an end to any ongoing or future efforts of privatising water and sanitation services across it (India).

4. Commodification and control of Indian/public waters, to the detriment of the/its states and their people should stop.

5. Thousands (1000s) of public taps that have been removed to ensure a monopoly by private water companies resulting in devastating impacts on the lives of the poor should be immediately restored and safe and sufficient drinking water must/should kindly/please be supplied to poorer localities immediately.

OnApril 08,2011, the Human Rights Council adopted, through Resolution 16/2, access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right: a right to life and to human dignity.

A/HRC/RES/16/2 or HRC Resolution 16/2 (The human right to safe drinking water and sanitation) of 8 April 2011
It reaffirms all previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council (HRC) on human rights and access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

It recalls General Assembly (GA) resolution 64/292 of 28 July 2010, in which the GA recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.

It welcomes the recognition of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation by the GA and the HRC, and the affirmation by the HRC that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity.

Water Policy Draft Is Convoluted - Forbes India, Feb 28, 2012

Image: Amit Dave/Reuters - All's not well People gather to get water from a huge well in the village of Natwarghad in Gujarat
This petition has been addressed to the Hon'ble Indian Supreme Court (SC), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Women (NCW), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), President, Prime Minister (PM), Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), State Urban Development Departments (UDDs), Guvs, Chief Ministers (CMs), Chief Secretaries and Municipal Councils/Corporations / Municipalities / Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).


Syed Tanveeruddin (Mysore, Karnataka) for the People / Residents of India


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