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Water privatization rejected in Kerala, India

The Times of India reports, “Putting an end to the speculations against privatizing drinking water supply and limiting the role of Kerala Water Authority, the water resources department has cancelled the government order issued last year to set up the company. Confirming the decision, water resources minister P J Joseph said, ‘The privatization move has been dropped because of the public opposition.’”

Kerala is a state in the south-west region of India on the Malabar coast. It is bordered by Karnataka to the north and north east, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Lakshadweep Sea to the west. It has a population of about 33 million people.

“Kerala had witnessed huge protests, especially from the opposition, when the state government gave administrative sanction to set up a water supply company in December 2012. When the protests escalated, the government revised the order in March last year to clarify that there was no move to privatize drinking water supply. The order clarified that the company would supply tanker water to colonies and commercial establishments and would distribute packaged drinking water at reasonable rates. However, even the revised order could not soften the protests.”

In a January 2013 campaign blog, we said, “There are news reports now about a state government decision to privatize the drinking water supply in Kerala. The private sector would own 51 percent of the company, the government 26 per cent, and the Kerala Water Authority 23 per cent.” At that time, New Delhi-based Blue Planet Project organizer Madhuresh Kumar commented, “The State Government of Kerala is taking a U-turn from its earlier position of no privatisation and has gone ahead with the formation of a company, paving the way for the privatisation of the water supply earlier managed by Kerala Water Authority.”

Today’s article notes, “P J Joseph said the Kerala Water Authority and Kerala Irrigation Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited can proceed to set up bottled water plants. …’This is absolutely necessary to ensure that safe bottled drinking water is available to the general public at reasonable rate, especially in a scenario wherein multinational companies control a significant part of the market share despite charging prices much above the cost of production’, the order stated.”

Congratulations to our friends and allies in Kerala on this tremendous win!

Further reading
Harper’s agenda of free trade and energy exports to India
Proposed Revisions in National Water Policy Call for Privatisation of Water
Pani Haq Samiti debate on India’s proposed National Water Policy
Bottling the Tap Water: Bottled Water Industry in India
India’s Supreme Court rules schools must have drinking water and toilets within six months
US water market mission to India undermines the right to water