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.
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
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.
Release, with HNF