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Freshwater Rights

By Arun D Ahluwalia

30 March, 2006

Heard of fundamental rights of man? Never heard of fresh water rights?

Better do for your own sake. At the greatest GEOEXPO in August, 2004 in Florence in 32nd International Geological Congress I saw ironically these rights on beautiful pamphlets going abegging in huge waste paper baskets. The document originating in Spain gave these 10 water commandments that Freshwater has the right to be:

Included among public policy priorities and to be allocated sufficient financial and manpower resources. This right should be recognised and guaranteed by all countries.
Valued as an essential good for sustainable future of the planet and of mankind.
Not wasted or misused but to be applied correctly and moderately, in order to guarantee its natural, ecologic, social and economic functions.

Satisfying the basic necessities of all living beings on the planet, including mankind.
Not contaminated and to be protected against contaminating activities, in order to maintain the characteristics of its natural state.

Not appropriated by any part of society. It is a common good, and as such should be available to all citizens.

Not underutilised. This is particularly so concerning groundwater, which is accessible, economic and of high quality.

Studied by public and private research bodies. The results of these investigations should be made available to the public.

Playing an important role in maintaining biodiversity and in protecting wetlands and other natural spaces.

Cherished by all the inhabitants of the planet, and particularly by its children, to whom campaigns should be addressed to raise awareness of fresh water's natural and cultural values.

Futuristic water scenario could be extremely dismal unless we follow these 10 commandments.
Glaciers and ice caps, the so-called fixed deposits of fresh water may be on their way out. The mineral water industry already flourishing is likely like pharmaceutical industry to soon co-exist with a spurious counterpart. How long are we going to use drinking water for watering lawns, washing cars and cattle? If we do not get out of this luxury, we'd be fighting street wars over fresh water.

To be retaining our rights for safe drinking water even within cities, we need to launch a mass communication programme in effective and thoughtful ways to enforce Freshwater Rights. Those who may consider these to be a joke will find themselves on the receiving end not very far off in the future.









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