News: Here come the water warriors
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, Fighting commodification of water and highlighting
people's fundamental right over it, international water
activists have gathered in the Indian capital. The People's
World Water Forum (PWWF) activists will chalk out strategies
to counter the "designs" of multinational water
corporations PWWF claims to be an alternative to the World
Water Forum, which the former accuses of being a think
tank run by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and major water corporations.
Inaugurated here Monday, the grouping is an attempt to
build a network of water partners and anti-privatisation
movements for water rights around the globe.
Activists say the privatisation of water and putting
it on sale in the international market is totally unacceptable.
"How can you commodify something that is considered
sacred in many cultures?" asked Riccardo Petrella,
secretary general of International Committee for Global
Water Contract, at the launch.
Apart from forging strategies against water corporations,
the activists also expressed opposition to the Tehri dam
in the hills of northern India and the massive industrial
use of water from the Plachimada area in Palakkad district
of Kerala in the south.
Under a Rs.1.3 trillion project, water stored at the
Tehri Dam in Uttaranchal will be transported to the thirsty
national capital. The project aims at privatising the
city's water distribution management.
Water activists pledged to oppose privatisation of water
in Delhi, insisting that water should remain in public
"Privatisation has not worked for people in the West
and we want to tell people here that it would not work
here either," said Petrella.
His colleague Tony Clarke of Canada said the Suez water
corporation, which will manage Delhi's water, was kicked
out the Atlanta city council in US two years into its
The reason was Suez's inability to fulfil its promises,
including providing clean water.
A Ghana activist who visited the Tehri Dam site in Uttaranchal
alleged that Suez had sub-contracted the construction
work to Indian companies at lower rates and was making
profits in the process.
Vandana Shiva, director of the Delhi-based Research Foundation
for Science, Technology and Ecology, warned that if Delhi's
water privatisation scheme went ahead in its existing
state, people in the capital would have to pay up to 10
times more for water.
She said the project had displaced the local population
"Besides snatching people's fundamental right over
water, the project will result in massive flooding and
make the area earthquake prone," Shiva claimed.
She said public resistance against the dam was paying
dividends, with work on a 600-km pipeline stretch to Delhi
stopped due to farmers' protests.
Peterella and his associates are also planning to discuss
ways of making parliamentarians from around the world
agree to declaring water a human right.
"Dominant political powers across the globe have
told us this isn't possible but we will continue to persist,"