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What's new at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, India


Join CSE's National activists workshop on air pollution and citizen's right to clean air.


Centre for Science and Environment is organising a training workshop on environmental documentation from December 17-19, at 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi.


The current issue of the G:NET newsletter is now available. This bimonthly newsletter is for all those who are concerned about our deteriorating environment.


Equity Watch is a climate change newsletter from the Southern perspective the latest issue is available on our website.


Unknown, unidentified and lethal fevers are striking India. Such fevers have claimed thousands of lives the world over.


The iron foundries in Agra get some breathing space but the Supreme Court is determined to save Taj Mahal from these polluting industries.


The people of Uttaranchal are resisting the government's attempt to wrest control of the van panchayat forests.


Who pays for the research and development of new medicines? What medicines get most of the research and development money?


Are we prepared to defend ourselves from possible bio-terrorist attacks?


Introducing a newsletter that explores this missing link. A bi-monthly. Produced by the health and environment unit of the Centre for Science and Environment.

A message from the Chairperson, Anil Agarwal:


Water has become a new pet subject for Indian industry. Not because it is concerned with the depleting water resources or its own contributions to growing pollution. Because it sees a new and lucrative business opportunity. With support from the World Bank, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and other associations are competing with each other to establish their role in the water business. Last month saw a spate of conferences on this issue, with industry participants drooling about the huge investment requirements for drinking water and sanitation.

I am not against private sector involvement in water per se. But given the political economy of water and sewerage in the country, I believe their role will be extremely limited. The simple assumption of private sector proponents is that if water is correctly priced - what is known as full cost pricing - it would facilitate investment from the private sector and provide a solution to the water crisis facing vast regions of the developing world.

This argument has many holes unfortunately. Firstly, current water and sanitation technology, based on the flush toilet and sewage system, would make full cost pricing of water and sanitation services unaffordable by most in the urban South. It is important to recognise that private sector involvement cannot be only in the water supply business. This is just one small and profitable part of the water business. The real cost is in taking back the sewage and treating it to the quality needed for disposal in water bodies. This is the real "dirty" business. We know that sewage and drainage costs can be as high as 5-6 times more than the cost of water supply. And with increasing chemical pollution, water treatment costs are only going to increase.

The political economy of defecation is such that no democratic government will accept the hard fact that it cannot "afford" to invest in modern sewage systems for its citizens. Instead it will continue to subsidise the users of these systems, in the name of the poor, who would not be able to afford the systems otherwise. It is important to realise that almost all users of the flush toilet and its sewage system are the rich in our cities. Our political system today literally subsidises the rich to excrete in convenience. In fact we get a double subsidy.

The logical policy would be to accept the cost and then to impose differential pricing so that while the rich pay for the cost of the capital and resource intensive sewage and waste disposal technology, the poor pay for the cost of their disposal system, which is invariably unconnected to the sewerage system and hence low cost. But this is easier said then done.

The democratic framework in our countries would force political leaders to keep water and waste pricing affordable by large sections of urban populations. In this situation you will find that private investment looks for an easy way out. The answer is to invest in water services and to leave the costly business of cleaning up the waste to government agencies. In most parts of the developing world, the water industry is bidding and securing contracts primarily for the profitable water business. This will lead to a distortion in the prices, as profits will be creamed off, while costs will be left to the already strained public exchequer.

In India, industry has been lobbying for private investment in the water sector. But it would like to focus on the water supply business. Or at best it would like to build and operate the treatment plants but will leave local governments to price and recover costs from consumers.

Secondly, the private sector will have little to offer to large numbers of urban poor. Most poor urban dwellers are illegal occupants - living in slums and highly congested areas. The cost of reaching and maintaining services to these groups is expensive and there is uncertainty about recovery of dues. The risks are high. The profits low. In this situation, private investment is rarely available.

Thirdly, private sector with its mantra of full cost pricing does not even begin to have answers for the millions of people living in rural South. These communities already pay an enormous cost for water. In fact, here the community sector has an enormous amount to offer. Given the state-dominated water supply systems, little effort has been made to get rural communities to develop and manage their own water supply systems. But where done, it has shown outstanding results, including the willingness of rural communities to contribute substantially (labour in a big way and materials to a lesser extent) to the construction and maintenance of the water supply systems. This reduces the cost of water supply to the public exchequer and gives ownership to the stakeholders of the water supply projects. Community-based water management has the potential to become the world's biggest cooperative enterprise.

Rural communities need is financial support for creating conditions that lead to self-management of water sources. The answer is not full cost pricing but political decentralisation and empowerment.

It is this community-industry-government collaboration that we must build in urban areas as well. Public participation and political process that pushes for good governance in water management are the key prerequisites for change. Not another contractor.

Given the state-dominated water supply systems, little effort has been made to get rural communities to develop and manage their own water supply systems

- Anil Agarwal


Visit our website at www.cseindia.org and check out what's new. Our website carries our science and environment fortnightly Down To Earth, a daily environment news flash by subject categories, a catalog of books and publications that are available, and all of our recent press releases. We also give regular updates on all of our campaigns on topics like vehicular pollution, climate change, biodiversity, water resources, wildlife, forests, environment education etc. Our online library of books, journals, images and videos is searchable through a thesaurus of environmental keywords at http://www.cseindia.org

We are also looking for reciprocal linking to other website in this area. Let us know your website address and we would be happy to link to you. Please feel free to forward this message to other interested individuals.

If you wish to discontinue this fortnightly email update from CSE then please send an email to webadmin@cseindia.org with the subject heading as unsubscribe. To add you to the list please send with the subject heading as subscribe.

Sucheta Sharma
Website Unit
Centre for Science and Environment

Centre for Science and Environment
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area
New Delhi - 110 062 INDIA
Ph : 6081110, 6083394, 6081124, 6086399
FAX : 91-11-608 5879
VISIT US AT: http://www.cseindia.org
Email: webadmin@cseindia.org

A fortnightly electronic news bulletin from CSE, India to a network of friends and professionals interested in environmental issues. We send this to people who we believe are involved in sustainable development initiatives.


Front Page, Week Of:

4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week

5/22/05: Individuals Injured by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation

10/16/05: Victim's Organizations Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose Jesus Pessora

12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos Bill in January

12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter: Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION

Jim Fite's Alerts:

Asbestos Victim's Superfund Compensation Program

Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)

Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment (open letter)


Joe Oliver's Alerts:

Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.

If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.

Leonard Makowski's Alerts:

The White Lung Association stands in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)

WLA Alerts & News

S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing products - This bill is supported by the WLA.

Meet Mr. Asbestos

Proceedings of the Asbestos Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.

Australia Bans Asbestos!



Senator Specter Breaks Promise to Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community

Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases


World Trade Center Health:

In May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed the "Asbestos Strategies" report.

British Asbestos Newsletter:

The latest issue is Spring 2005


News from India:

The latest issue is January 4, 2007



December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day


Current Projects:

Asbestos Museum


Articles & Publications:

Occupational Respiratory Diseases: Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts

Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White Lung Association



In Memoria:

Paul Safchuck May 21, 2003

Dr. William Nicholson Dies at 70

Ray Sentes Brave Fighter For Asbestos Victims

For more information please contact info whitelung org.