People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 32

August 07, 2011




Militant March Protests Water Privatisation Move


Anurag Saxena


ON August 1, over one and a half thousand protestors marched from Delhi Gate to Delhi Sachivalaya (ITO) against renewed efforts of the Delhi government to privatise water in Delhi. One notes that public protests had foiled the earlier effort at water privatisation in 2005.


Through their march on August 1, organised by a broadbased organisation called the Jal Adhikar Manch (JAM), the protestors demanded that the Delhi government must immediately shelve the World Bank funded PPP project for the elite South Delhi areas --- promising 24x7 water supply, in which water distribution and pipeline maintenance are to be outsourced to private contractors. Rather, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), under the chairpersonship of Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister, must concentrate on equitable distribution of water across Delhi, ensuring regular water supply to over 25 per cent households in Delhi who depend on informal water markets for meeting their needs and over 30 per cent households that do not have adequate access to safe drinking water in Delhi, according to the government’s own sources.


Addressing the gathering, Rajya Sabha MP and CITU general secretary, Tapan Sen said that the experience of neo-liberalism has shown that private players are looting the public resources. Privatisation has aggravated various problems across the country, and yet the governments are keen on facilitating corporate gains and loot at the cost of the people’s interest. He welcomed the opposition being put up by unions in the Delhi Jal Board to DJB’s privatisation and appealed to the entire population of Delhi to join the struggle to stop water privatisation. He cautioned the people that privatisation would lead to increased tariff rates in Delhi.


Brinda Karat, Rajya Sabha MP and member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, also addressed the gathering. She said that with the outsourcing of billing by the DJB, the situation has worsened for poor households who are being charged outrageous bills up to Rs 12,000 a month. Corruption has increased manifold due to this outsourcing. Unmindful of repeated concerns raised by citizens, the government has allowed unhindered construction in the Yamuna floodplains, thereby contributing to water shortage in the city. The move towards privatisation would only aggravate the distributional inequalities in Delhi and must be opposed.


The meeting was chaired by Anurag Saxena (CITU) and also addressed by Pushpender Tyagi (DYFI), Kiran Shaheen (Pani Haq Abhiyaan), Sushil Sharma (Industrial Staff Union, DJB), Sonia Verma (JMS), Ved Prakash (Sewarage Department Mazdoor Union, DJB), Albeena Shakil (JMS) and Virender Gaur (DJB Union).


On this occasion, the protestors submitted a memorandum to the Delhi chief minister through her office, detailing their demands.


The Jal Adhikaar Manch, comprising the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Janwadi Mahila Samiti (JMS), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), All India Lawyers Union (AILU), Jan Sanskriti, Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), Janwadi Lekhak Sangh (JLS), Jana Natya Manch (JANAM), Delhi Science Forum (DSF), Democratic Karmachari Front (DKF) and North Zone Insurance Employees Association (NZIEA) has resolved to continue this struggle till the privatisation efforts in DJB are withdrawn.