NEW DELHI: Several activists fighting for community rights over wateras against its privatisation by multinational companies or State ownership on Thursday pledged to "thwart attacks" on water’s sovereignty. They agreed that there should be a massive campaign on "alternatives."
At a two-day convention here on "Building Water Democracy, Resisting Water Privatisation," participants condemned attempts to privatise and commodify precious water resources through World Bank driven water sector reforms. They resolved to defend water as living resources, a gift of nature, a fundamental right and not a market commodity.
Common property — "Water is not State property. It is nature’s most vital resource, a common property, a basic need and must stay under the control of society which must dedicate itself to its conservation," they said. The NGOs demanded that water policies and laws adopted by States such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan that declare water to be a State property — "to be converted into private property" — must be changed to recognise water as people’s natural right.
At the end of the convention on Thursday, the activists adopted a declaration that said"privatisation of water resources, centralisation — through dams — [and] exploitation was an onslaught on the right to life as all living beings and Indian culture’s basis was that [the] whole earth is a family."
The declaration said that the natural sources of water — rivers, springs, tanks, underground water — should not be tampered with. The Rajasthan method of storing rooftop water in a small reservoir should be followed. Local alternatives to those crops and industries that utilise more water and cause pollution should be found.
The signatories to the declaration included Sunderlal Bahuguna of Chipko Information Centre, Tehri; Rajinder Singh of Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar; Anupam Mishra of Gandhi Peace Foundation; Vandana Shiva of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Environment; Bhartendu Prakash of the Vigyan Shiksha Kendra, Banda; S.A. Naqvi of Water Workers’ Alliance and Sureshwar Sinha of the Pani Morcha among other