US Water Trade Mission - Go Back!
US Department of Commerce
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Public opinion and common sense are being overwhelmed by a dangerous nexus between politicians, corporate leaders, bureaucrats and foreign governments. Like a vulture that seeks out vulnerability from great distances, US corporate forces with an eye on water have smelt their kill in India and are descending for a feast.
The US water trade mission selected Bangalore as a first destination because the same nexus has been active for a decade and Karnataka is now being promoted as the water privatisation capital of the world. Instead of responding to the basic water needs of people in the state or to conserve water resources, successive state governments from the late 90s have been happily signing up one project after another with international banks and foreign governments to privatise every aspect of their constitutional responsibility of providing clean potable drinking water for all.
International private companies and their consultants in Karnataka directly influence water policy, assess needs, design infrastructure and manufacture public consent. They have taken over the operation and maintenance of water supply in five cities including Mysore, Hubli, Dharwad, Belgaum and Gulbarga. None of these decisions are informed, discussed or debated in democratic institutions or in the public realm. Information is suppressed and decisions manipulated.
The government of Karnataka is paying hundreds of crores of rupees to such private companies /consultants and signing agreements that are unduly biased against the public in Karnataka and itself. Like the British East India Company which got all the resources it wanted as well arrogated an illegitimate right to rule and divide the country, the US Water Trade Mission is aimed at complete corporate control over water resources as well as our sovereignty.
The mission statement openly suggests that the purpose of the mission is to expose U.S. firms to Indias rapidly expanding water and waste water market and to assist U.S. companies to seize export opportunities in this sector. The deliberate use of words like - water market, water trade - underlines the intention of transforming our traditional idea of water as a natural resource to that of a product that can be traded or which you access depending on your ability to pay for it.
The idea that the state is a people elected institution for their well being is also being made nonessential.
The mission statement also promises additional opportunities in providing consulting and design services to the Indian water industry. The Americans want us to believe that it does not rain water but is produced in an industry and that the constitutional responsibility of the state is an industrial activity. It further offers networking opportunities, current market information and a platform for policy discussions with the local Municipal Corporations. The arrogance of the mission rests on its ability to get the Government of Karnataka state to hold water related policy discussions with them. This is also ironic as the state has never discussed such policies with the public.
Clearly, the US Water Trade Mission is a historical event, both for the Americans who want to establish control over our water and for those in Karnataka who want to uphold the character of water as a common good and protect it from being exploited for private profits at the cost of equity, ecological justice and the rights of all peoples - present and future.
We protest this attempt by the American Water Industry. We will not allow our water to become a commodity. The US water trade mission needs to go back. We will not allow them here.