‘Supply of water is a human right, it cannot be leased out’

Even as the Delhi administration is getting ready to implement public private partnership model in water distribution in three areas of the city, a protest against the decision is all set to spill on to the streets. The members of the Water Privatisation-Commercialisation Resistance Committee (WPCRC) have slammed the government for trying to privatise water supply and cautioned that unless the government rolls back the initiatives, the protests will be intensified across the city.

“Supply of water is a human right, it cannot be leased out. Supply water is the responsibility of the government,” said Justice Rajinder Sachar who is the patron of WPCRC. He criticised the government’s decision to bring in PPP in water distribution and questioned the terms at which the companies are being given the contracts for running the projects.

The Delhi Jal Board has identified Malviya Nagar, Vasant Vihar and Nangloi as areas for implementing the PPP on a pilot basis.

Mr. Justice Sachar also questioned the existing billing pattern and said consumers are being charged twice as much for “service charges” than for the actual consumption. Drawing comparison with privatisation of electricity, Mr. Justice Sachar said when power was privatised, people were assured of 24x7 supply, but what has emerged from the exercise is consumers are being charged for expensive power.

“The power privatisation began with premise that the State cannot stop theft, which was blamed on the poor. Where as it has been proven that power theft is being carried out buy industrial bodies,” he said.

The Committee claimed the DJB has been systematically shrinking its employee base and paving way for outsourcing of services like meter reading and bill generation.

“To prepare the ground for privatisation, DJB has been wilfully neglected, with only half of the required regular staff, DJB is left at the mercy of poorly paid employees engaged by contractors. This has led to the deterioration of DJB’s service and the employees are being blamed for it,” the WPCRC claimed.

Pointing out that the PPPs are a “cover for public-private sharing of risk and profit such that there would be predominantly public risk and predominantly private profit,” the WPCRC called for a withdrawal of privatisation and commercialisation initiatives.

The Committee also demanded, supply of water to unauthorised and JJ Colonies without imposing development charges.

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