‘State has a sly deal with a private firm'
Voicing their protest against the State Government's proposed move to privatise water supply in 16 towns across the State, representatives from various civil society organisations on Wednesday launched a People's Campaign for Right to Water.These representatives along with members of ActionAid, Slum Janandolana, Sadhana Mahila Sangha and students St Josephs' College met on Wednesday to discuss the issue of water privatisation.
Initiating the discussion, Kshitij Urs and L. Arul Isaac Selva explained that the State Government had secretly entered into an agreement with Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL and FS) to prepare ground for water privatisation in 16 cities across Karnataka.
“After the water services in Hubli-Dharwad, Gulbarga, Belgaum and Mysore were undemocratically handed over to private companies, the State Government is now following the same strategy all over the State.
Although the officials say the water supply project is aimed at plugging water leakage and providing 24X7 supply, it is ultimately privatisation,” said Rajendran Prabhakar, an activist.
Hard-pressed to pay
“Middle class and lower middle class people in Belgaum, Gulbarga and Hubli-Dharwad, where all connections are metered, are finding it hard to pay the user charges. It is obligatory duty of the Government to provide water to citizens. Why should people pay to use water?” Mr. Urs asked.
“Although the three-year contract of the private company that is supplying water to Hubli-Dharwad ended in March this year, the Government has extended it for another three years,” Mr. Urs added.
The campaign will include an intensified state-wide movement wherein women, students and like-minded people will be involved.
As part of the campaign, a State-level seminar on the issue will be organised in the city on December 1.
“Following that, a delegation of representatives will meet Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and Governor H.R. Bhardwaj to prevail upon them about protecting people's right to water,” Mr. Prabhakar added.