The year 2000 changed the fate of Bolivia, a South American country. The slogan “Water is life … You cannot privatise life” reverberated the city during the blockage. Students, housewives, teachers and workers hit the streets of Cochabamba and Lapas cities.
They were protesting the privatisation of water services after activists explained how the private company had hiked the tariff by 300% and earned a profit of USD 300 million per year.
In April 2000, the water contract was finally terminated. “After water, we stopped the privatisation of natural resources. We then changed the constitution — ‘Water can never be privatised and it should be managed by the state with the help of communities’,” recounted Pablo Solon, from Bolivia, on Tuesday.In 2010, it was Solon as a Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, who moved the resolution identifying water as a basic human right and that it cannot be privatised. India is a signatory to it.
Bolivia changed the constitution. “(But), the preamble of the Indian Constitution says we are a ‘sovereign socialist republic. If we are a socialist country, how can you privatise water? It means treason with the constitution,” pointed out Justice Rajinder Sachchar.
Solon and Sachchar were speaking at an anti-water-privatisation conference where activists from cities across India that have witnessed 24X7 water supply under the public private partnership (PPP) shared their experiences. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has embarked on three 24X7 pilot projects under the PPP model.
Jammu Anand (Nagpur), Rasool Nadaf (Hubli Dharwad), Gaurav Dwivedi and Rehmat (Khandwa), Vinay Baindur (Bengaluru), Baburao Dandinkar (Gulbarga) and Ashok Govindpurkar (Latur) shared experiences from their municipalities’ water privatisation projects.
Govindpurkar has led a successful fight for re-municipalisation of water services at Latur, the hometown of former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.