Water is social property, not a source of profits for capitalists
The crisis of water in Delhi is becoming increasingly acute. The Delhi government and the Central government blame the governments of neighboring states for this crisis. They claim that the governments of neighboring states are cutting the supply of water, and not providing the full quota to Delhi.
However the union of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) workers believes that the Delhi government is creating this crisis to justify privatization of DJB. Earlier also Delhi government had created artificial scarcity of electricity, when it had planned to privatize the Delhi Electric Supply Unit (DESU), so that people don’t oppose the privatization. A similar strategy is being used again this time.
As per the assessment of the Delhi Jal Board Union, there is no shortage of water. As per their records, the Jal Board is releasing 847 MGD (Million Gallon per Day), which is being processed in their plants. In addition to this there exist 80-100 bore-wells in each assembly segment, from which water is being supplied to the people and, if aggregated, the volume of water is more that 847 MGD.
Workers and unions of DJB informed the Mazdoor Ekta lehar correspondent that in the present condition, if all the staff of DJB are recruited and deployed for supplying water, water needs of residents of Delhi can be easily fulfilled. In 2009 DJB had 13.5 employees per thousand consumers. Every year nearly 100 employees retire, but the vacancy created by them is not being filled with new recruits. Currently, the condition is so acute that for providing water and sewerage services to a population of nearly one crore 70 lakh residents of Delhi, there are only 18000 employees. Due to this shortage of staff, DJB is not able to control wastage of water.
As per estimates of workers and the Delhi Jal Board union, there is so much water that 150 liters per person can be provided everyday to a population of 2 crore, and still 232 MGD will be surplus. They have provided this estimate to the Chief Minister as well as the CEO of DJB.
The government is arguing that DJB is running at a loss and privatization is the only way to resolve this. The fundamental question that is posed here is: why social wealth like water should be allowed to be used for the private profits of the capitalists. The real aim of the government in privatizing water supply is not to provide better service to people, but to increase the profits of the private corporations.
The other important question that must be posed is: can the state abdicate its responsibility of providing the sukh, suraksha and well being to the people giving the excuse that the service provider is running into losses? The government collects thousands of crores of rupees as taxes from the people precisely for providing these services. According to the 2009-10 budget figures, the total income of DJB from various sources is Rs. 1750.79 crore. Of this sum, a large portion of Rs. 614.52 is spent on debt servicing (to money lending agencies), while a little more (Rs. 629.90 crore) is spent on salaries of the employees. As per informed sources, Rs. 1300 crore has been collected as revenue in 2012. The government must give account for the expenditure of such huge sums of money.
The workers of DJB are waging a valiant struggle against privatization of the board. They have made representations to the Chief Minister as well as the CEO of the DJB, and placed their demands:
- The privatization of plants (that have already been privatized) must be reversed
- Moratorium on recruitment of new staff must be retracted
- Sewer line workers must be provided with adequate safety equipments/ gear.