People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 31, 2006
Modi Govt Out To Privatise Water Supply
THE BJP government in Gujarat has, it seems, decided to privatise the drinking water distribution system in entire Gujarat.
And as the first step in that direction, two main drinking water distribution channels have been chosen. One of them is the Mahi river pariage pipeline distribution project that covers a wide area and the other is the Narmada drinking water pipeline.
Initially it was declared that the purpose is to immediately provide adequate supply to such villages as have been under drought. But that seems to be a convenient ruse for a mischievous intention. In fact, all the concerned officials and others have been alerted to remain prepared for it. They want to keep the people in dark on this issue and suddenly embark upon water supply privatisation silently.
Four main districts selected for such sudden introduction of water privatisation are Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Surat and Kutch.
The CPI(M)’s Gujarat state committee has directed all its units to conduct, along with the mass organisations, an advance awareness campaign to alert the common people and launch popular resistance to any such introduction.
As of now, drinking water distribution is done by the government through the water supply board. Its privatisation is being suddenly taken up in the background of the idea of developing a total of 33 special economic zones (SEZs), 8 of which have already been sanctioned.
One of these SEZs to come into existence will be in Jamnagar with its hinterland, covering ten thousand acres, under the joint tutelage of Reliance and a giant multinational. One so-called Gujarat Water Infrastructure Development Company (GWIDC) had prepared a proposal and plan for Maliya Kutch area, for water distribution from Bhachau (Kutch) to Maliya. The people’s guess is that the said proposal has already been sanctioned.
Since the water would be supplied through water taps, the corporations under the BJP have started overall repairing of the tap system with updating of water tanks. It is because they will charge for the water supplied by fixing water meters on the water taps. Rural supply for agro purposes is also likewise being examined for charging on the units consumed.
Thus World Bank-IMF proposed concept of making even drinking water a “commodity” is being considered for implementation at the earliest.
Since Bhavnagar city is in the priority hit-list, the CPI(M) district committee in Bhavnagar has chalked out a detailed plan of resistance with street corner meetings and jathas. A joint campaign by all the mass organisations, areawise rallies, rural conferences, dharnas and demonstrations, and ultimately a bandh with the participation of all who would be affected, is being worked out.