The Hindu News Update Service
If water companies find India as a whole is enticing, Bangalore must look like manna from heaven, write Kshithij Urs and Richard Whittell in ‘Resisting Reform? Water Profits and Democracy’ (www.sagepublications.com). “A well-entrenched multinational corporate lobby, enriched by and perpetuating the vision of Bangalore as a ‘world-class’ corporate city, a system of governance dominated by unelected and unaccountable parastatal bodies, and a substantial middle class, all combine to provide the backing for private involvement and profit potential,” they observe.
In Bangalore, as elsewhere around the world, there has been an effort to create the right ideological climate for privatisation, the authors find. Starting by blaming the inefficiency and failure of the government in providing water to people at large, the ‘reformed’ way of thinking advocates that water should be seen as a commodity and that efficiency should determine its provision.
“Seeing water as a commodity practically means that it should be sold in quantifiable units. In this sense, the buyers of water pay according to their consumption… The oft-heard mantra in debates is that water supply costs money, suggesting that those who are against these ‘reforms’ are either naïve or have not grasped basic economics.”
While conceding that it does cost money to supply water, Urs and Whittell caution that putting the stress on recovering costs directly from all ‘consumers’ can easily lead to inequities in the supply, especially where many people cannot afford to pay the amount it costs the service. “The supply will become unavoidably geared towards supplying to those who can pay.”
A book with important insights to tap into.