What's new at the Centre for Science and Environment
(CSE), New Delhi, India
ANGRY AIR ACTIVISTS
Join CSE's National activists workshop on air pollution and citizen's
right to clean air.
TRAINING WORKSHOP ON ENVIRONMENT DOCUMENTATION
Centre for Science and Environment is organising a training workshop
on environmental documentation from December 17-19, at 41, Tughlakabad
Institutional Area, New Delhi.
GNET NEWSLETTER FOR THE MONTH OF OCTOBER
The current issue of the G:NET newsletter is now available. This bimonthly
newsletter is for all those who are concerned about our deteriorating
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.
STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
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?
THE MISSING LINK
Introducing a newsletter that explores this missing link. A bi-monthly.
Produced by the health and environment unit of the Centre for Science
A message from the Chairperson, Anil Agarwal:
THE WATER BUSINESS
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
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
- Anil Agarwal
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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
11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose
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
Asbestos Victim's Superfund
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.
The White Lung Association stands
in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)
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.
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
May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed
the "Asbestos Strategies" report.
The latest issue is Spring 2005
The latest issue is January 4, 2007
December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day
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
Paul Safchuck May
Nicholson Dies at 70
Ray Sentes Brave
Fighter For Asbestos Victims