06 May, 2021

Paying Partnership

Water privatisation is threatening our sovereign policymaking

Paying Partnership

Water has always been a source of power—and of discrimination. Just as the study of an irrigated landscape is a route to the mem­ory of the power of kings and earlier forms of state, the government’s recent water policies, especially those on drinking water, are a product of the interplay between many spheres and interests. Recent water policies are conspicuous for two important shifts: first, the removal of the state from its responsibility of operating and managing water services; second, the overwhelming role handed over to the private sector, with water services being handed in their entirety to bidding companies.

Karnataka became the first state to implement the pro-privatisation policy when Veolia, a French company, was provided a lucrative contract to manage water and sanitation in parts of four major cities in the north of the state. Soon, the whole of Mysore, home to a very progressive public water utility—with a major water reservoir, the Krishnaraja Sagara  (KRS), just 13 km away—was transferred to JUSCO, of the...

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