Archive for the ‘Paani’ Category

Death Toll up to 7 in Riots over Water Tanker Killing in Mumbai

The driver of the water tanker, Suresh Salve succumbed to his injuries in hospital, as the death toll in the ‘water tanker riot’ rose to 7. Harish Malvade, the guard who fired the first shot killing Pradeep Amre, the 11 year old boy from the local slum, is fighting for his life even as the police waits to question him. Sources say the gun was unlicensed.

The riot apparently broke out as the people from the slum tried to stop the tanker and ask for water. The driver tried to force the tanker through the crowd, injuring some people, and riot broke out. The driver was pulled out and almost beaten to death.

Meanwhile the parents of the boy, Pradeep Amre are leading a morcha of over a 100 slum dwellers demanding an investigation into why a thirsty young school boy was shot for trying to steal a water from the tanker. The Mumbai police are trying to bring the situation under control as the riots threaten to spread to other parts of Mumbai. The water situation continues to be precarious and water tankers are being brought in to Mumbai, but are often unable to get to their destination as they are waylaid by armed gangs.

This is the 3rd day of no piped water supply in Mumbai.

There are questions demanding to know why an armed guard was traveling with the water tanker. A news bureau report has confirmed that the guard was hired by the new Water Mafia that has emerged in Mumbai. Hotels and Housing Societies in the posher areas are now dealing directly with the Water Mafia to supply them with water as the BMC distribution systems have broken down, and the State Government is trying to bring the situation under control. Promising that supply lines will be restored as water becomes available. The reservoirs are low, as the demand in the city far outstrips the supply of water.

Meanwhile, the State Government has asked schools and colleges to shut down till the situation eases. Five Star hotels have become a refuge against the water crisis, and in the city are already full. Reportedly they are charging upwards of Rs 2 lacs per night, but are not taking any bookings over two nights as they cannot assure any water supply beyond that. Hotels too apparently are dealing directly with the Water Mafia.

Airlines and trains are reportedly showing heavy loads of people leaving Mumbai, and airlines are putting up more flights. The water crises is a financial bonanza for airlines and hotels in the short term, but the chairman of one airline said in a press conference that in the long term such a crisis will drastically reduce the amount of traffic in Mumbai.

The US government yesterday issued a travel warning to it’s citizens in Mumbai, and are reportedly moving staff to their other consulates within the country till the water crisis eases out.

Citizen groups are co operating with the police and the State Government. The biggest fear is that sectarian violence will break out as local political parties step up their call for a ban of entry of people to Mumbai. The State Government has appealed for calm and said any panic will only make matters worse. They are promising to repair the pipelines that have been damaged. Reports are coming through that some of the pipelines were deliberately damaged by the water mafia to create the shortage.

In the meantime the Army has been called in to ensure that water tankers get through to Hospitals and other essential services, but there have been reports that some of that water has been diverted to the houses of ministers.

Just 3 days into the Water Crisis, and people of Mumbai are living in fear. And in thirst. NGO groups are angry, saying they have been warning of this crisis for a long time. Mr Debankar Rao of the Dekho foundation says that if the recommendations of the Infrastructure Committee had been implemented, this crisis could have been averted :

a. Better Water Management, with 30% of Water wasted in leakages etc, and stopping the nexus between the municipal corporations and the water mafia.

b. More equitable distribution of water through a steep rise in water charges beyond certain levels of consumption.

c. Creating employment and education opportunities in rural areas through implementation of the Broadband Connectivity Policy, in order to stem the pressure on population in Mumbai.

Love, trust and faith in directing

Beyond words, sounds. Beyond a blink, a sigh, a smile, a touch, a frown. Is there communication in absolute silence and stillness ? Is there communication in a sense of being ? Beyond just the simplistic scientific ideas of thought transfer and telepathy ?

I have often felt such strong communication in the presence of absolute Love and trust. Not with just vague ideas of words like ‘Hey I love you” thrown at each other , but love and trust that is focussed, active and eager at that moment. Which when combined together seem to bring our deeper selves out from our assumed physical containment, into an energy that mingles and entangles with each other. And that mingling leads to something more ethereal, more harmonious and ideas so limitless that words and gestures could not have conjured up.

I often do that when I direct. I ‘sense’ rather than speak about my relationship with actors. I actively try and create a sense of trust and bonding of love not only with my actors, but with everyone on the set. When the actors are performing, I am loosing my identity into them and creating so called ‘energy fields’ around the set so we all become part of a harmonious ‘moment’ urging for something to be created beyond ourselves but also through ourselves. And often in response they are doing the same.

Not only in my experience with actors like Cate Blanchet , Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush and Naseeruddin Shah, with whom I have had experiences where our souls have had the courage to be ‘naked’ in front of each other for that moment, our senses acutely alive to some deeper and often unknown aspect of ourselves in each other, leading to a performance where in hindsight you wonder in awe where and how it evolved so unpredictlably but yet so beautifully.

But also with musicians like Nusrat fateh Ali Khan and A R Rahman. With Nusrat most of the communication was done by him looking into my eyes and singing with tears flowing from both our eyes, having been transported to a realm higher than ourselves. I have been blessed by moments when such people that have trusted and loved me too.

Often producers have felt insecure that I do not look at the ‘Video Monitor’ judging the ‘shot’. I cannot. How do I trust a moment of absolute faith and maintain a connect of love and faith with my actors through a machine ?

But of course such love and trust is possible only after huge amounts of thought and dialogue between my actors and composers and scriptwriters. Before trust comes, there must be understanding. But at the moment of ‘creation’ it all has to be let go into the search for something beyond all that was said and discussed, into something unpredictable.

It’s the essence of all creativity, a huge sense of focussed discipline, followed by a complete letting go. Into moments of absolute faith.

Directing is so much like living. Love , trust and faith.


This published article was sent to me and I reproducing it here on my blog and hope the author has no objections. It’s a very very insightful and important read.


The repeat of devastation of Sindhu Valley Civilization

By Umendra Dutt

About two years ago my friend the famous singer Rabbi Shergill in one of his
Punjabi article says “There is no doubt that it was just because of a major
environmental change that the great civilization of Indus valley had
completely vanished. The same reasons, in the same form are today existed
before us. The only difference between the both situations is this that in
those times it was a natural disaster but this time it is of man made”.

Rabbi equated present situation of Punjab with Sindh valley which destroyed
because of water scarcity.

Rabbi concluded his article by saying ‘Sindh ghaatti aj fir maran nu tyaar
hai’ which means Sindh valley is again prepared to die “Will this really
happen?” I asked my co-passengers “Of course, it is a degrading environment
and a dying civilization in Punjab; a whole community has been put to slow
death” affirmed Dr Amar Singh Azad, my senior colleague in Kheti Virasat
Mission. “It is a crime committed against humanity and nature by our own
governments, that too in the name of Development”, I said, endorsing his
observation. All of us were very upset and angry after visiting villages
near Dhakansu drain and Ghaghar River in Patiala and Sangrur districts.

This was our third visit to a river or drain area to educate ourselves on
environmental toxicity and its multiple impacts. About eight years ago, I
did a padayatra along the Jayanti River in Ropar district. I found several
similarities between the disappearance of Jayanti and Ghaghar rivers. Both
rivers have lost their relevance after society forgot and neglected the
significance of these rivers.
The river eco-system was ruined at both places
by the developmental activities carried out by “modern society”. Our latest
Yatra was a field visit to learn more on the crisis of water, environmental
toxicity, condition of agriculture, biodiversity, the unfolding health
crisis and the socio- economic fallout of this ecological disaster.

The entire picture is extremely frightening. There has been a lot of debate
on the severe health and water tragedy apparent in the districts of Malwa
region. But we should correct our view point – it is the whole of Punjab
that seems to be under deadly devastation now. Some of our well-wishers ask
us again and again that – “Why are you activists bent on such
scare-mongering around these things?” I would like to repeat the words of Dr
Azad here – “Yes, we want to create a scare, because the situation is far
more destructive and scary than our government and people can ever imagine.

It is a life and death question for Punjab; it is clearly evident that
Punjab is a dying civilization.
Several people may find this offending, ugly
and uncalled for. However, the indications that we are getting from across
Punjab point to a death sentence written for the whole eco-system in this
part of the country and particularly for this brave community.

‘Villages up for sale’ are a unique symbol of distress and devastation in
Punjab …..


Water as Human Right Threatens to Split World Body

Water as Human Right Threatens to Split World Body
by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 15, 2010 (IPS) – A long outstanding proposal to recognise the right to water as a basic universal human right is threatening to split the world’s rich and poor nations.

Opposition to the proposal is coming mostly from Western nations, says Maude Barlow, a global water advocate and a founder of the Canada-based Blue Planet Project.

“Canada is the worst. But Australia, the United States and Great Britain are also holding up the process,” she said.

“I am loath to see this as a North-South issue, but it is beginning to look like it,” Barlow told IPS.

If the draft resolution is eventually adopted by the 192- member U.N. General Assembly, “it would be one of the most important things the United Nations has done since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she said.

The two-page draft, described as “historic”, recognises “the human right to water and sanitation,” and is being initiated by Bolivia.

A final text of the draft, currently under discussions, is expected to be presented to the president of the General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, by the end of July – if it clears the political hurdles.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomatic source told IPS: “This is something very dear to developing countries.”

It is true that there is actually no legal basis for declaring the right to water and sanitation as a basic universal human right, and issues like definitions and scope have to be worked out. He said the argument being made is there is already an ongoing process in Geneva that is meant to work on this, and that the General Assembly “is jumping the gun”.

“Overall, water and sanitation are such critical issues that we must work towards consensus on this resolution. Anything less than consensus would undermine the very importance we attach to them,” he warned.

Barlow pointed out that nearly two billion people live in water-stressed areas of the world and three billion have no running water within a kilometre of their homes.

In a letter sent to all 192 U.N. ambassadors, she said that when the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights was written, no one could foresee a day when water would be a contested area.

“But in 2010, it is not an exaggeration to say that the lack of access to clean water is the greatest human rights violation in the world,” said Barlow, who once served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the U.N. General Assembly in 2008-2009.

She said Canada has blocked even the most modest steps toward international recognition of the right to water and has worked behind the scenes to derail advancement toward a binding instrument.

Government officials have not explained their position except to say that such a convention might force Canada to share its water with the United States.

However, this is a complete “red herring” and the Stephen Harper government knows it, she added.

The truth is that a right to water convention at the U.N. would act as a counterweight to those who want to sell Canada’s water for profit and is a more likely explanation of Canada’s continued opposition, Barlow said.

Ann-Mari Karlsson of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) told IPS her organisation supports the human right to water and sanitation.

“But we concur with the views of the U.N. independent expert that the right to water and sanitation are components of the rights to an adequate standard of living and that these rights are protected under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” Karlsson said.

She said it is important that a U.N. resolution on the right to water and sanitation should state this clearly, “which as far as we can see, the current draft does not”.

What is more, the importance of sanitation in this context cannot be underestimated.

Karlsson said water and sanitation are closely linked, and the world is more off track to reach the Millennium Development Goals on access to sanitation than it is for access to water.

“There should be an adequate reflection of this in the resolution,” she added.

Anil Naidoo, also of the Blue Planet Project, has already briefed China and the 130-member Group of 77 developing countries in promoting the draft resolution.

“International and local community groups fighting for water justice have long been calling for leadership from the U.N. in clearly recognizing that water and sanitation are human rights,” said Naidoo.

“As this moves forward we are demanding that the language of the resolution remain strong and leave no doubt that water and sanitation are human rights,” he added.

Andersson of SIWI told IPS: “We are not against privatisation on principle. Our main concern is that the state should take its responsibility to regulate and monitor activities by private actors so that everyone has access to affordable drinking and household water and sanitation.”

Whether the provision of water and sanitation is carried out by public or private actors is not relevant to the status of water and sanitation as a human right, she declared.

Meanwhile, a coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the Council of Canadians, Food and Water Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Blue Planet Project, has appealed to members of the European Parliament seeking their political support.

“In light of the European Union’s recognition of water as a human right, it will be crucial that the EU play a key role in promoting this key resolution at the United Nations,” says the letter.


thalif deen
un bureau chief & regional director
inter press service (IPS) news agency
room L-214, united nations
new york, ny 10017
el: 1-212-963-6156
Mumbai taxi driver talks about water problems in city

If you want to know the real truth, talk to the Taxi drivers. They live their lives on the streets and have their ears to the ground. I asked this Mumbai driver what he thought about the water issues , an here is a snippet from the conversation. Shot this on my flip cam

Local internet magazine fights back as mainstream media goes for sensationalism

Hamari Awaaz (our voice) is an issue based video magazine I found ( or my assistant Anish Patel did) on the internet. I don’t know much about it, but I can feel the depth of commitment of the young people involved. Neither looking for fame, not for a lot of money, nor carried by the sensationalism that drives mainstream press and tv stations today. They are driven by commitment to a cause, and the way we can support them is by viraling the magazine as many times as possible.

The video magazine should be called Hamari Asli Awaaz ( our true voice). This issue is about water privatization in Mumbai, an issue explored in my film Paani.

Water as a weapon in battle against terrorism ?

Rabid nationalism may yet drive a nation to wage war against another through blocking water resources. China could do it to India through damming the Brahmaputra. Turkey could do it in the Middle East, and it is common knowledge that whoever hold Goan Hights also controls the flow of Water.

But I am talking about many of the suggestion on my twitter account and blog. That starving Pakistan of water is a way to control terrorism that originates from there. I am afraid that is not and never should be an option. The worldwide war on terror is not against the people of a nation, the children of a nation, but against the terror outfits that exist or are protected by that State. Even of it was considered a strategic option in a state of war, it would be a stupid one.

For the terror outfits, the military and the high command will be the first to draw for themselves whatever water resources they may have. Leaving the ordinary powerless civilians, women and children dying of thirst. Thereby driving more of them into a frenzy of fundamentalism and war. Three days of watching your kids die of thirst will drive you to extremism, however non violent or liberal you may be. Within India we are watching killings everyday over mere buckets of water at wells.

Using water as a weapon of war is a to set a precedence from which there is no escape. Expect it to be used against yourselves too. Over 100 million people in India depend upon the water that flows down from the glaciers of Tibet.

Using water as a weapon is the surest way of inviting an all out nuclear war. For it leaves no other option.

Thirsty Pakistan gasps for water solutions

Thirsty Pakistan gasps for water solutions
Experts say country is facing a water crisis that could see it run dry in several decades
Sahar Ahmed Karachi Reuters
Friday, Jun. 18, 2010 10:15AM EDT

Pakistan is facing a raging water crisis that if managed poorly could mean Pakistan would run out of water in several decades, experts say, leading to mass starvation and possibly war.

The reliance on a single river basin, one of the most inefficient agricultural systems in world, climate change and a lack of a coherent water policy means that as Pakistans population expands, its ability to feed it is shrinking.

Pakistan faces a raging water crisis,” said Michael Kugelman, program associate for South and Southeast Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

It has some of the lowest per capita water availability in Asia, and in the world as a whole.”

The vast majority – between 90 and 95 per cent – of Pakistans water is used for agriculture, the U.S. undersecretary for democracy and global affairs, Maria Otero, told Reuters. The average use in developing countries is between 70 and 75 per cent.

The remaining trickle is used for drinking water and sanitation for Pakistans 180 million people.

According to Mr. Kugelman, more than 55 million Pakistanis lack access to clean water and 30,000 die each year just in Karachi, Pakistans largest city, from unsafe water.

Of the available water today, 40 percent of it gets used,” Ms. Otero said. The rest is wasted through seepage and other means.”

Ms. Otero was in Islamabad as part of the first meeting of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Water Working Group.

Pakistans Indus river basin is supplied by melting snow and glaciers from the Himalayas. A recent report in the journal Science by Walter W. Immerzeel of Utrecht University in the Netherlands said the Indus could lose large amounts of its flow because of climate change.

Both India and Pakistan make use of the Indus, with the river managed under a 1960 water treaty. Pakistan has lately begun accusing India of taking more than its fair share from the headwaters by building a number of dams and waging water war against its downstream neighbour. India denies this.

If the current rate of climate change continues and Pakistan continues to rely on the inefficient flood system of irrigation, by 2050, it will be able to feed between 23-29 million fewer people than it can today with approximately double its current population.

The United States hopes to encourage Pakistan to modernize its agricultural system and plant less water-thirsty crops. Ms. Otero said Pakistan and the United States are also exploring ways to improve the storage of water and Pakistan must look at ways to charge more for water as a way of encouraging conservation.

Such measures would likely be unpopular in the desperately poor nation. Measures to reduce subsidies on electricity, as mandated by the International Monetary Fund, amid chronic power shortages have battered the already unsteady civilian government.

Pakistan needs to either pass land reform or a series of laws to govern proper water allocation, Mr. Kugelman said.

If nothing is done, the water crisis will continue, no matter how many canals are repaired or dams constructed,” he said.

Paani adviser Maude Barlow : The world has divided itself between rich and the poor…

Worlds most renowned water activist Maude Barlow gives a fiery and factual speech at the Earth Summit in response to the G 20 Summit meeting at Toronto. Maude is one of the biggest supporters and adviser to our film Paani. It is a speech worth listening to as it drives home many truths,

Ashok Mehta, DoP of Bandit Queen, with respect…

It very rarely that a director can say that his learning and career graph was propelled by his relationship with a DoP. But I could say that openly and honestly about Ashok Mehta. I have only done one film with unfortunately. And that is because Ashok refused to come with me to the West where I pursued my creative goals. He refused to be taken away from his roots here in India. I still wish he had come. I missed him a lot.

Ashok unlocked my creative potential in Bandit Queen. He showed me how to be brave and not afraid of expressing myself through the camera and not just through actors and story/plot. He taught me that my instincts were good , but only as good as my courage to follow them through.

Ashok Mehta taught me to be fearless in my visual expression, something that I have now become known for in Hollywood.

Ashok has an innate sense of visual story telling. It’s not just about how he lights, but also how he frames. Subtle shifts in camera angles sometimes, and extreme angles that create inherent emotional charge in the audience at other times. He looks through the camera and instinctively knows what to do to accentuate that which is often hidden in the subtext of the scene.

Ashok Mehta is self taught. Originally from Afghanistan , he started by selling boiled eggs outside a Mumbai studio. Then got a job as a lowly ‘canteen boy’ inside the studio. He begged ?for a job ?as a ‘camera attendant’ graduating to a focus puller and then to cinematographer. ?And the rest is history as he redefined the art of cinematography ?in Mumbai. And taking risks. He shot the interiors Shyam Benegal’s Trikaal almost completely in candle light at a time when film stocks did not have as much latitude.

He does not ask too many questions. Ashok came on to the location of Bandit Queen when I had to lose an original British DP, and walked on to the set and took the camera from me ( I was filming myself by then) and quickly readjusted the lens and the angle and in five minutes and said “lets shoot” !! How did he know what to do – He did not even have time to read the script All I can say he has the ‘Gift”.

A gift that has gone somewhat unfulfilled in Indian Cinema unfortunately. For his attempts to raise the art of the image beyond the needs of stars, schedules and mundane plot lines ultimately frustrated him. I think he just looked to God and said “whatever !!”.

Ashok should film. He should teach. He has so much to give that it would be a crime to not learn from him. He is a visual genius