Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Activist meeting in Delhi

In Delhi we attended an all day activist meeting in the Indian Resource Centre. Sheltered from the 44 degree heat (the hottest part of our trip so far) we were joined by water activists from across North India. This included the internationally known names of Vandana Shiva, Medha Patker, Prabesh Joshi but also a number of activists who have been fighting water struggles ranging from dams, irrigation, coca-cola to water services privatisation. the number of inspirational stories we heard and the dedication of the activists is testament to the strength of civil society in India.

The Right to Water Campaign for example utilising India's freedom of information act, exposed that the planned Delhi water privatisation that was proposed by the World Bank and consultant PriceWaterhouseCoopers was a sham that clearly would not benefit the people of Delhi. for example if signed the contract obliged the Delhi government to have to agree any budget that the contracted company demanded. unsurprisingly this included huge pay packets for directors. also no survey was done of actual availability of water in Delhi and how it could be improved. armed with this information they formed a popular campaign that resulted in the Delhi government refusing to sign the loan.

We could all feel the energy in the room. Santiago commented, 'the intensity of the room was incredible, the speeches were empowering and it was a privilige to be part of the event'

the second part of the day saw the Reclaiming Public Water book launched in Hindi to a large number of press, and it was received extremely well.

All feeling motivated and inspired our group splits tomorrow to travel to different areas. One group is off to Mumbai, Indore and Bhopal, the other to Bangalore and Kerala. We will reunite on the final day for the final launch event in Chennai.

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