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Activists Unite To Stop ‘Urban Development’ Water Privatization In India

WaterCivil society in India and global activists have taken a cue from the anti-Lagos water privatization actions spearheaded by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria with the kick off of a two-week action including rallies to expose the failure of Nagpurs public-private partnerships(PPP) water privatization promoted by the Modi government and the World Bank.

The groups involved in the escalation events are calling for the contracts cancellation and the utility remunicipalization.

Similar actions were held in Lagos March 2015 calling on the Lagos government to halt the plans which they said, would result to water shut offs, increase in prices, job losses and insecurity , among others.

The World bank in its report had claimed that public-private partnership is a success in countries it has been introduced like Nagpur in India and Manila in Phillipines. But the activists are faulting this claim.

In a statement released on behalf of the group by the media director, Corporate Accountability International , Jesse Brags said Nagpur’s water PPP has led to shutoffs, skyrocketing bills, poor service and lengthy project delays.

The groups with support from Indian Social Action Forum(INSAF) and Public Service International(PSI) aims to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government from replicating the failed Nagpur model in its recently launched nationwide pro-PPP urban development initiatives.

The programs, including “Smart Cities” and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), together target 600 municipalities , and Modi himself has called explicitly for replication of the Nagpur project.

President of NMCEU, Jammue Anand, said “In Nagpur, the PPP scheme has enabled companies to squeeze profits from what should be a public water system, while workers suffer and families struggle to pay unaffordable bills or withstand life-threatening water shutoffs.

The idea that the Indian government would expand the Nagpur model—a glaring violation of the fundamental human right to water—to hundreds of cities and millions more people across India is simply dangerous and puts corporate profit before human life.

The Director, Corporate Accountability International, Shayda Naficy, said “In the pursuit of these water privatization projects, the World Bank continues to confuse ‘development’ with profit,”.

“For years it has ignored the concerns of the people most affected by this dogmatic pursuit, but with people across the globe raising their voices, it can’t run from the truth any longer.”

-Kamar Buhari

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