Campaign to protest privatisation of water
With the blazing summers ahead, several organisations have come together to form the 'Pani Hakk Abhiyan' to protest privatisation and commercialisation of drinking water in the Capital. The campaign also plans to make it as an election issue during the upcoming municipal polls.
Although privatisation will affect all areas of the city, the most affected would be those with less paying capacity. Delhi has more than 1,600 unauthorised colonies with around 40 lakh people and many of them are eligible voters. Most of these colonies are awaiting regularisation, without which there cannot be proper piped water supply and sanitation facility.
Mehtab Aalam from the Coalition for Protection of Human Rights Defenders pointed out how several colonies, which were regularised long ago, still do not have piped drinking water supply. "Several areas in Jamia Nagar neither have piped drinking water, nor proper sanitation facility," he said.
This is possibly for the first time, NGOs, civil society groups, trade unions and those at the ground level under various movements have come together to demand and assert water as the fundamental right for all.
In 2005, a similar movement had thwarted a World Bank-aided privatisation of water move in Delhi when hundreds of groups, including RWAs, had joined hands to fight the problem.
"The ghost of 'privatisation' has raised its head again. The Constitution talks of every citizen's right to water. It is a constitutional and democratic right. So why can't water be a legal right too?" asked Kiran Shaheen from Pani Hakk Abhiyan (PHA).
Aiming to increase efficiency and financial sustainability, the Delhi government through Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has started involving private sector in various activities. It is already implementing projects under the PPP model and has private firms maintaining treatment plants. It has already started pilot projects for outsourcing certain services.
The draft National Water Policy 2012, too, states that several cities in India have already taken steps towards privatisation and distribution of water. "In the context of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, the collective that PHA feels 'politics of water' is an equally important issue," she said.
The Pani Hakk Abhiyan plans to hold a convention soon to highlight these issues.