Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Battle Won but the War Continues

Manthan Adhyayan Kendra reports on a major intermediate success in the battle against privatisation of Water Supply in Khandwa Town in Madhya Pradesh. The War of course continues -
The recently formed independent committee by the Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) to look into the objections of the residents of Khandwa regarding privatisation of water services in the town has stated in its report that the concession agreement between Khandwa Municipal Corporation (KMC) and private company, Vishwa Utilities, handing over water supply to the private company should be cancelled. The committee has rejected the entire water privatisation project due to the irregularities in the concession agreement and tendering process. As an alternative to the private water supply project the committee has recommended to the state government to form a water board. The independent committee has also rejected the condition to hand-over monopoly rights to supply water to the private company in the town.     
It needs to be remembered that, the local community in Khandwa has been campaigning against the privatised water supply project since April 2012. The campaign has been supported widely by the local social organisations, district lawyer’s association, pensioner’s association, traders association, citizen groups, local media, political representatives, etc. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra has been monitoring and studying the project since last 5 years when the project was in the proposal stage. The findings of Manthan’s research on the project have been used to disseminate the ground realities and long-term impacts of the private water project among the local groups and individuals. During the campaign Manthan has continuously been in touch with the local community, media and groups in Khandwa and is closely monitoring and responding to the new developments that are unfolding in the town.    
The local residents and various social and political groups are campaigning against the privatisation of water services in the town. The KMC notification giving legal shape to private control of water supply was objected by more than 10 thousand households in the town, more than 60% of the regular water connection holders. GoMP has formed a 7 member independent committee to resolve the objections against privatisation under the chairmanship of Shri Tarun Pithode, CEO, Zila Panchayat, Khandwa on 22nd March 2013. The committee presented its final report to the District Collector, Khandwa on 3rd June 2013 and the report was made public on 14th June 2013.      
The independent committee has revealed the collusion of KMC with the private company Vishwa Utilities, and the facts related to KMC illegally benefiting the private company in its report. It has also mentioned in its report about the KMC collusion with the private consultancy firm Mehta and Associates and providing it with uncalled for financial benefits. 
The Private Water Supply Augmentation Project in Khandwa has been implemented under the central government sponsored Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT). While implementing this project KMC has ignored the local water resources. It has needlessly gone ahead with a highly capital intensive project, handing over water supply to a private company for 23 years. Even before privatisation the elected members of the municipal council were not taken into confidence leave alone any consultations with the local people.    
The independent committee has commented on the working of the private company stating that, how the town’s water supply system can be handed over to a private company for 23 years that cannot complete a construction work of 2 years in 3 and ½ years. The report has also pulled the Mayor-in-Council (MIC) of KMC in the dock noting that MIC only had financial powers related to the private project, however it changed the mode of the project due to vested interests. 
The first attempt to privatise water supply in Madhya Pradesh is in Khandwa. However, the local campaign against privatisation and the report of the independent committee has put a question mark on the future of the private project. A new phase in the campaign against the private water project has begun in Khandwa after this report. This is an important development, the broad impacts of which might be seen in other towns and cities of the state and the country.
A report in Down to Earth in this regard may be seen at -
 Rehmat and Gaurav Dwivedi
Manthan Adhyayan Kendra
Barwani, Madhya Pradesh

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