Skip to main content

Water privatisation: Odisha govt 'deals with' Adani group as local people suffer

Mega pipeline project being implemented amidst protests
By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* 
The people of Kendrapada district of Odisha are fighting peacefully for last two years to save their river Kharasrota. This river is the lifeline of farmers, fishing communities and other communities living besides the river. The Kharasrota river is the source of life and livelihoods for the people of Odisha in general and people of Kendrapada and Jajpur in particular.
The successive governments have failed to provide safe drinking water to the people of Odisha. The people of the Kendrapada district continue to drink unsafe drinking water from the river. The Kharasrota river provides water for both drinking needs of the people and water for irrigation to agricultural fields of the district.
The people living in the downstream of Kharasrota river are facing acute drinking water crisis both during the rainy season and during the summer season. The rainy season brings severe floods, and the muddy water is impossible to drink.
The water flow declines in the river during the summer and salty water from the Bay of Bengal enters into the Kharasrota river. The water becomes unusable for drinking and agricultural purposes. The Government of Odisha has not done anything to address this water crisis in the region.
In order to supply water to the Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL) in the Bhadrak district, the Government of Odisha is using its Basudha Drinking Water Scheme. The DPCL is a 100% subsidiary of the Adani Ports and SEZ. The Government of Odisha is spending Rs 892.14 crore to supply water to the Adani Ports and SEZ in the name of supplying water to the people of Bhadrak district.
The Odisha government has Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department of Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Departments to implement drinking water projects. However, this drinking water project is outsourced to the Hyderabad based company called the Megha Engineering India Pvt Ltd.
The reasons behind the outsource is best known to the Government of Odisha and its leadership. This company is implementing the project in the Kharasrota river near the Gadagadi Ghat under the Barunadiha Panchayats of Rajkanika block of Kendrapara district.
The local people argue that in the name of drinking water project for the people of Bhadrak district, the Government of Odisha is implementing this project to supply water to the Adani Ports and SEZ in Dhamra as it is close to Rajkanika. The people of Aul and Kanika are not opposed to the drinking water project and water supply to the people of Bhadrak district.
The Government of Odisha is unnecessarily creating disharmony between the two neighbouring districts by providing wrong information to the media and campaigns against the protesters. The protesters of Aul and Kanika are making six fundamental points.
  1. The Bhadrak district has major rivers and water can be used from the local rivers for the drinking needs of the district. It will be cost effective for the Odisha government as well. Why is it necessary to take water from the Kharasrota river? It is neither convenient nor cost effective. It puts pressure on the water needs of the local people living around the Kharasrota river.
  2. The people of Aul and Kanika are arguing that the Government of Odisha must conduct a scientific study and environmental assessment on the impact of this project on the local communities and their water requirements. What would be the ecological impact of this project on the Bhitarakanika National Park and its mangroves? The Bhitarakanika Mangroves protect communities from regular super cyclones in the district.
  3. The protesters argue that the project will aggravate the water crisis in the region. Therefore, the government of Odisha must create an environmentally sustainable barrage that can save the surplus overflow of the water to the Bay of Bengal. The surplus water can be used for the drinking water projects both for the people of Kendrapada and Bhadrak district.
  4. The government of Odisha must reveal the water requirements of the four blocks of the Bhadrak district. What is the water requirement of people of Bhadrak district? How much water overflows from the Kharasrota river? What is the local water requirements?
  5. The Government of Odisha must reveal the plans to stop the salt water from the Bay of Bengal entering into the Kharasrota river. It is neither drinkable nor usable for agriculture. This happens during the summer season.
  6. The Government of Odisha must release all the protestors arrested by the Odisha police on false grounds and end its undemocratic police raj.
These are very reasonable concerns and suggestions by the protestors to the Government of Odisha. However, the Government of Odisha is using brute police force to implement the project instead of engaging with people and their reasonable demands.
The Odisha government is arresting anyone opposed to this project. The peaceful and democratic protests by the local people are declared illegal by the Government of Odisha by imposing the Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Such undemocratic move by the Odisha government shows its commitment to the Adani Ports and SEZ at the cost of local people, their lives, livelihoods and their environment.
The selling of river to corporates is a death sentence to local communities. The international experiences of water and river privatisation show that it starts with drinking water projects. These projects serve corporate interests more than the drinking needs of people. The privatisation of water and commercial agriculture led to drinking water crisis across the world. The diversion of water to mining, industries and other corporations has aggravated water crisis.
The decades of water privatisation has failed across the globe, but the BJP government continues to pursue and aggressively implements the failed policies of the previous Congress governments in India. The Government of Odisha follows the footprints of Chattisgarh government in making river a private property of corporates.
It looks as if the BJD government in the state and the BJP government in centre are in competing with each other to serve corporate interests by selling rivers and water resources to corporates at the cost of people, their livelihoods and the planet.
The successive governments in India continue to follow rent seeking regressive economic policies that put forests, rivers, mountains, land and other common goods for sale in the market, where corporates seek profit at the cost of people. The central government and state governments have continued with such a mercantile tradition despite of ongoing people’s movements for environmental, social and economic justice.
The objectification of environment and commercialisation of rivers put life, livelihoods and planet in danger. Rivers belongs to communities living around the river. It should be used for the greater common goods of the communities and not corporations. Profit over people is a dangerous ideology that puts sustainability of our present and the future in danger.
---
*University of Glasgow, UK

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Stop harassment, release Kashmir rights defender Khurram Parvez: Global NGO

By Our Representative  Ahead of his hearing on January 21, 2022, CIVICUS , a global civil society alliance with more than 10,000 members worldwide, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately and unconditionally” release human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “The judicial harassment he is facing highlights the repressive environment for activists and critics in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”, it said in a statement.