Saturday, April 15, 2006

Water privatiziation in India

P. Sainath reports: Thirst for profit
The corporate hijack of water is on and if the current trend continues, India's water sources will be in private hands before long.
"In 1998, the World Bank predicted that the global trade in water would soon be a U.S. $800 billion industry, and by 2001, this projection had been jacked up to one trillion dollars." And these revenues are "based on the fact that only five per cent of the world's population are now receiving their water supply from corporations". So as the corporate grip on water tightens, "water could become a multi-trillion-dollar industry in the future. What if city after city privatises its water services?"
About 118 million households -- 62 per cent of the total -- do not have drinking water at home. As census household survey data analysed by Dr. S. L. Rao show, 300 million Indians draw water from community taps or handpumps. (Many World Bank and Asian Development Bank projects, by the way, will end up doing away with those community taps.)

About five million Indian families (roughly the population of Canada) still draw water from ponds, tanks, rivers and springs. This is a stratified society. The big dams that have displaced millions of Indians in the past decades have also narrowed control and access to water. Atop this structured inequity, we now install hyper-inequality.
hose bringing it to you include some of the top corporations in the world. Some of the companies now making a beeline for India have been turfed out of Latin America. Suez, one of the Big Three of water, told the Guardian that "it was almost impossible for it to work in Latin America or Africa. And so, instead, it would "be concentrating on China, India and Eastern Europe." The company did not mention that it had been tossed out of Grenoble in its native France as well. As Maude Barlow points out, that city also jailed its own mayor and a senior Suez executive for bribery.

As she also shows, it's not just any racket. It's scale is stunning. "Bottled water costs up to 10,000 times more than tap water in local communities. For the same price as one bottle, 1,000 gallons of water could be delivered to a person's home."

In Bolivia, when the MNC Bechtel took control of the water supply in the city of Cochabamba, it raised prices by 200 per cent

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