‘Flow”: the Corporatization of our Planet’s fresh water resources : is the World Bank part of the conspiracy ?

For those of you that have not heard of Irena Salina, look out for her name. She has just made a terrifying, informative, well researched documentary on the future of fresh Water resources on our Planet. She shows how gradually all the main Water resources are being usurped by major water corporations all over the world, and how the World Bank is completely complicit. The documentary is called ‘Flow” and is about to be released at the Angelique in NY. Catch the trailer :

That is the fundamental premise to my feature Paani also. Experts world wide, who I might add, do NOT live in Water Stressed parts of the world, are imposing the argument that ” the only way to manage a dwindling resource is to get people to pay for it, so that they use it with care” Feels right in theory but what price to you do set on water ? , and whatever price you set, 85 % of the people will not be able to afford it. So we will get situations like what is already happening in these so called farm houses outside New Delhi. No farm house is complete without a swimming pool, while the adjoining farms are running dry for lack of water and the farmers are selling their lands as they cannot grow anything. For more farm houses. Houses that are thirstily sucking out the ground water for private swimming pools !
Water is the new global weapon of social and control and exploitation.

17 thoughts on “‘Flow”: the Corporatization of our Planet’s fresh water resources : is the World Bank part of the conspiracy ?

  1. shekhar, what is happening is the culmination of decades of abuse. it is a cycle in transition…………..will not go backwards ! nature blessed man with abundance…….man abused the gift……nature compels man to live with the abuse !
    are you hinting at an era where we will buy fresh air and water…..? GHOR KALYUG ?

  2. You mean this is actually going to happen? That would be so tragic. I have read that the next world war will be over water. It is so easy to establish ownership over anything that is in public domain. New Delhi is notorious for this. As farmhouse owners are usurping ground water, so are city dwellers -any available free space next to the house is annexed to one’s property. After a period of time, it becomes an entitlement. It is sad to read about the World Bank’s tacit collusion with big corporations in resorting to arm-twisting others.
    ‘nature blessed man with abundance…man abused the gift……nature compels man to live with the abuse’ –that’s beautiful 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing this.
    YES, we need companies to pay for water – they are the big users. Sure, tax swimming pools and other luxury uses of water. We in the West (I’m in Australia, in the worst drought since European settlement) should pay more for water, we should use less water (we have become better). But it must be free for the poor.
    I am researching this topic for my next novel and there are many places in the world where it is illegal to catch rain water – the water companies make you pay for their ‘product’ instead. My last novel was set in Nigeria, a place where it is so polluted from oil and gas that in many areas the rain water is too poisonous to drink.
    I care about the world, and I care about humanity. Sadly, we are making this world inhabitable and giving little thought beyond what next material possessions we can acquire.

  4. Time and time again we have heard that the next world war will be about water – and we are slowly but surely edging towards that. We’ve already seen the whole advent of bottled and bubble top water which has invaded most ‘ well-off’ homes. the liquid gold will no longer be oil but good ole H2O

  5. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink
    Here are some tips to do your own bit to save the planet http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2945018.stm
    Something to learn …
    Interesting info i received …

    “I had my water cut off for a few days this week, not because I didn’t pay my bill but because they were fixing drains or something in the neighborhood.
    There is nothing like being deprived of something you consider essential to make you wake up and smell the roses. Being totally without water was the pits. It also made me realise how much water I actually use. I couldn’t flush, shower, fill the kettle, wash my hands, do washing or brush my teeth in the way I normally would.
    I live in one of the driest continents on earth and I thought I was quite aware of the ramifications of over using water. Problem was, I just didn’t know what it was really like to live without water for a period of time. I am now going to be far more rigorous. Because quite frankly, I don’t want to grow old and be without water. I don’t want to have to bathe in a bucket or carry water from a stream in pots on my head or wash my clothes in the local lake. It’s not the quality of life that I had hoped to have in my muu muu years.
    Degradation of our planet and global warming are real issues not just political rhetoric. However, there are occasions when the ‘Save the Environment’ messages go in one ear and out the other. Time I grew up and listened properly. I now realise more than ever that I need to be responsible and make more of a contribution to saving the planet. There is nothing like personal vanity to make a girl change her ways.”

  6. Sir,
    Water has always been a social weapon of control and exploitation. And who could have put better than you in the like of “BANDIT QUEEN”.
    Water wells have been used as a power resource in maintaining the caste system in Indian villages all over the civilization.
    Drinking water to be specific in a Billion plus growing human population is a tremendous need. A quick look at wikipedia gives a lot of information on this how only 2.5% water is available for drinking for a population of 6.2 Billion.
    Pricing a commodity like water in an Indian social system will be a great toll.
    We havent’t been able to solve the crisis of Power and fuel and communication despite pricing it at Global competitive standards.
    Human failure can be attributed to this fact that we have not been able to provide water reservoirs in the last century. Whenever we try to build Dams and other storage system of natural water the POWER Politics comes into being.
    Corporates will have to share the blame in time to come for not taking social initiatives or those vested in our own national interest. With 76% FDI being the mantra of growing economy you can’t expect Water management to get in these hands.
    In fact in my personal view corporates will never be able to deal with water resource management since you can’t control them with Broadband and a clik on Laptop. It cant be saved or stored in servers.
    Water belongs to those who don’t have homes and who sleep without shelter. Water cannot and will never become a part of Public Distribution System in an economy where currency notes are being replaced by fakes.
    What will you land up with a poisoned or non potable drinking water? Deaths? Malnutrition?
    People being tried in courts for non payment of water bills? Is our judicial system geared up?
    Sir I take back my words from your earlier pist about CIVIL WAR. Indeed Water can lead us to a civil war of sorts…God forbid!!
    More Rains God …to Bihar (40 lakhs affected) More water God… Tussi Great Ho!!
    A 1000 crores penalty for not having water storage systems….
    Vinod Agarwal – got carried away with the FLOW

  7. I think you should start an NGO for probable water problem alongside your upcoming movie Paani. I’ll definately love to be a part of it.
    It seems to be a grave problem.

  8. Shekhar, the importance of this issue simply cannot be underestimated . BUT, as a film maker
    – Who is your audience for a movie around this subject? Indian? educated middle class? multiplex,International, art house?From the sound of it, it can’t be the same audience that ‘Spiderman’ was made to attract. I am very curious to understand how you could make it a compelling subject for a movie goer and who would that be? Don’t get me wrong,you are offcourse among the most accomplished story tellers of our time and one of my favourites.I am just curious to understand the ‘film maker’ state of mind in you.

  9. It will be a sad day when there’ll be a world war over water. Our mother Earth has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.
    I’m looking forward to the making of Paani eagerly, Shekhar. Hope you’ll make me a part of it.

  10. Hi Deepak,
    Although your questions are addressed to Shekhar (and he may answer them if and when he desires), I’m provoked to answer them too.
    Quoting you, “Who is your audience for a movie around this subject? Indian? educated middle class? multiplex,International, art house?From the sound of it, it can’t be the same audience that ‘Spiderman’ was made to attract.” Unquote
    Why can’t it be the same audience that ‘Spiderman’ was made to attract? Do movie goers like to watch only one genre of films?? I don’t think so. Are you underestimating the cinematic appreciation ability of movie-goers who saw Spiderman?
    Why should a film-maker bifurcate his/her audience by putting labels on them? Middle class/Multiplex/Art House audiences are just Labels. If I was a film-maker I’d like my film to be seen by EVERYBODY, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds or the labels that you might like to attach to them. When you attach labels to your audiences like you have mentioned in your question, you are sounding more like a Salesman to me than a Film-maker. There has to be some difference between selling a product and making a film. They are not the same.

  11. Hi Navin,
    I knew I was possibly tempting an interpretation as yours with that comment of mine.My use of ‘labels’ was deliberate to an extent. You seem to be a victim of ‘labels’ as many of us. I used ‘spiderman’ as an example,but ‘you’ assumed it represents ‘lower cinematic appreciation’, I did not.
    My point here is – to understand how a film maker thinks of his audience.During the creative process of building around an idea you have to at some point you have to step out of your subjective self and let the objective side question things like – who else would want to spend 2 hrs watching my idea and story.If you do not do it, the producer will do it for you.Movie makers any day would love to have ‘EVERYBODY’ watch their movies.You may dislike it,but you need people who are willing to put ‘their’ money to take it to that ‘EVERYBODY’.It doesnt mean they get it right always.Infact they don’t.But they are an inescapable part of the entire movie making process and a film maker him/herself has to have a strong sense of what will excite the audience.And the audience comes in recognisable shapes historically.
    Coming back to ‘Paani’,if I am auto-rickshaw driver in Hyderabad who spends 4hrs daily to secure my daily share of water,would I want to go and spend Rs100/- on a movie which deals with this issue? (Sorry Shekhar I realise I’m being presumptious about the movie/feature here to make a point).As a filmmaker am I making this movie for him for eg.? Don’t get me wrong here I am not second guessing the choice of subject here. I am more keen on understanding how a filmmaker thinks.
    I also agree it doesn’t make sense to think in terms of audience segments as I alluded to (m’plex,middle class’) but more in terms of what side of human emotions it will appeal to?Or would I as a film maker use my judgement of ‘what excites me most is bound to excite many’ parallel and be led by instinct alone?
    So Shekhar,would really love to hear from you as well.

  12. James, very interesting take indeed.
    I grew up in a small Indian town where ‘water on demand’ is still a dream.All households however small or big,poor or otherwise have ‘BIG’ water tanks.Its ironical. They hope to fill them up when the weekly supply comes in. But invariably the tanks are larger than the supply. Collecting and storing water was and is the single largest family and community pre-occupation.
    I have observed however this struggle seems to bring out the leaders in women. Invariably women are the most vocal and powerful agents around the local water collection spots. They may not control the supply but surely dictate the distribution to a good extent. I always wondered if its the maternal/nesting instinct which brings about this at times rabid protective instinct for a basic need.
    While shekhar chooses to reserve his comments for now ;-), I am happy to live with an excerpt from his 2006 interview posted on this website which I just discovered. I should add,it raised my expectations from ‘paani’ even higher now:-). (Shekhar, hope you are ok with a ‘paste’ from your own web site).
    “3) Is Pani going to serve as a sort of a wake up call? Or is it just Sci-fi – meant to inspire thought and entertain? If it’s the former, then how would you benchmark the success of the movie?”
    It would be silly of me to say that I would spend $ 25 million of other people’s money and not be concerned about giving them the absolute possibilities of a substantial return on it. I do hope that Paani will be India’s Crouching Tiger, which effectively put Chinese cinema on the map of international mainstream cinema. While so much noise is being made about Bollywood world wide, there is little product we are making that could appeal internationally. It could all fizzle out as hype if we are not careful.
    What we need to do is tell stories that touch the psyche of audiences world wide. Water is such an issue. Water shortages affect almost 95% of the world’s population now, and is one of the most immediate envioromental disasters that is already upon us. Ask any Indian.
    So in that sense we don’t need a wake up call. We know Water is a huge problem. What my film deals with is when the breaking point has arrived. When the Water Wars break out. When there is a division in society between those that can afford Water and those that cannot, ad when Water becomes a weapon of economic and political control. It is the macro effect of the breaking point,
    Of course, the film is couched in the most passionate love story I have ever told.”

  13. Here in the US we do pay for water. A nominal amount, nevertheless some money is payed to the municipal services for supplying water. Many people buy drinking water off the rack as well. That was something I found very strange when I first came into this country. But water does hav some kind of price tag attached to it in the US.
    I never asked my folks, but is water supply in India free? Do we not pay NDMC or whoever supplies water to the city some money for their services?

  14. Dear Ritu, Yes. We do pay to municipal corporation for water supply. But it is nominal amount. Salina’s film on water crisis is a Cautions to us to be ready for next world war and after that there will be no more wars!
    In India, i heard that West Bangal govt. sold entire lake to the private company and no near by Tribal people can access water from it. There was little bit agitation against this deal but as always….Power is Power. Still nearby Tribal people have to go too much far for drinking water.
    I am a documentary film maker and i have also made Documentary film The Lost Water on Salt Worker life in Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) in Gujarat which is a mud desert and this 5000Sq.m area is completely dry area. The traditional salt workers have to go in this rann to produce salt from the saline under water. These people also have to buy a water to drink. This is a horrible that people who produce more then 60% edible salt of India they are deprived for the drinking water….
    We all are waiting for next world war! and for this world war we, people will be a responsible. No one else!
    Is’t it?

  15. water is still a right, not a commodity, and the good people of Cochabamba Bolivia have shown us the dierect action method of reclaiming this right. also see Vandana Shiva a who has been involved in many farmer movements in India to drive out coke and pepsi, who were hogging the farmers’ water.
    but make no mistake. this is going to be a hard, uphill battle, because capitalists do not give up easily. we must mobilize a whole gigantic worldwide movement, independent of any other agenda or political program. All free water all the time.

  16. Yes, true. But just look at how india is getting raped. Water is just one of the innumerable issues. You may enjoy my book — Karma Sutra: Essays from the margin — available at Strand book shop in Bombay and Bangalore, and on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble worldwide.

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