Milestones on the path to where we stand: The UN Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in 1992. To help Asian countries to implement it, International Union for Conservation of Nauture and Natural Resources (IUCN) established a Regional Biodiversity Programme (RBP) in 1996. As solicited partner to coordinate and implement GEF-UNDP-UNEP Biodiversity Planning Support Programme for South and Southeast Asia, RBP assisted development of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs). The NBSAP process in India started in 2000 with $1 million grant from Global Environment Facility (GEF), routed through Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), and a consultative/participatory technical-component coordinated by the NGO Kalpavriksha. It continued past the enactment of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, by which the National Biodiversity Authority was established in 2003, and a Final Steering Committee meeting in January 2004 decided that the report submitted by Kalpvriksha could be published as Final Technical Report of NBSAP. In April 2004, in a biodiversity related matter before the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee, MoEF placed on record its reservations about the biodiversity expertise of NBSAP Steering Committee member Shekhar Singh. In June 2004 Kalpvriksha and some other NGOs commented on the Biodiversity Rules, 2004. In March 2005 MoEF reportedly wrote to Kalpvriksha not to publish or in any form make public the NBSAP report. In July 2005 IUCN-RBP participated in a meeting of the NBA "to discuss and finalise the elements of several agreements". In September 2005, Kalpvriksha published the NBSAP report and released the same at an event on 04.10.05. On 05.10.05 MoEF issued a press note clarifying that it had rejected the report as being scientifically invalid. Kalpvriksha and others issued a response and released the report again on 10.10.05.
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002, was enacted "to provide for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of biological resources, knowledge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto". The Preamble notes: India is rich in biological diversity and associated traditional and contemporary knowledge system relating thereto; India is a party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity that was signed on 05.06.1992 and came into force on 29.12.1993; the Convention reaffirms the sovereign rights of the States over their biological resources and has the main objective of conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of utilization of genetic resources; and the Act arises from the necessity of this and also to give effect to the said Convention. As per information available on MoEF website, the Act received Presidential assent on 05.02.03. On 01.10.03 sections 1, 2, 8 to 17, 48, 54, 59, and 62 to 65 came into force and National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established. On 15.04.04 Biological Diversity Rules, 2004, were notified and on 01.07.04 the rest of the Act came into force.
Prior to the enactment, a process to give effect to the UN Convention had been started under the aegis of MoEF, about which MoEF (CS-II Division) has now issued, on 05.10.05, a Press Note titled "National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan submitted by the NGO - Kalpvriksha has been rejected", saying: Ministry of Environment & Forests has clarified that the Consultant's report, "National Bio-diversity Strategy and Action Plan" submitted by an NGO - KALPAVRIKSHA has been reviewed by a group of scientists appointed by the Ministry. They have concluded that the report is for the major part scientifically invalid. Hence, the Ministry has rejected the report and has started the process of developing the National Bio-diversity Action Plan, afresh. KALPAVRIKSHA was paid more than Rs. 3.00 crore as consultancy fees by the Global Environment Facility for preparation of this report. Unfortunately, this international assistance to India has not yielded the expected benefits.
About this GEF supported NBSAP some information is available mainly on websites of Biotech Consortium India Ltd (BCIL) and Kalpvriksha (KV), from which the following at least are clear:
- NBSAP was MoEF project with GEF grant, administrative coordination by BCIL, technical component by KV-coordinated 15-member Technical & Policy Core Group (TPCG) and a Steering Committee ("Additional Secretary, MOEF as the Chairman and representatives from eight central government ministries, Planning Commission, UNDP, and four NGO experts", as per BCIL).
- NBSAP was executed in 2000-2004. KV/TPCG response to MoEF Press Note says the report was submitted in late 2003 and Final Steering Committee meeting was held in January 2004.
- NBSAP was purportedly participatory/consultative ("Over 2000 people involved in central way; several tens of thousands in substantial way through workshops, public hearings, yatras, and consultations; several hundred villages covered in various states", as per BCIL; "over 50,000 people in various activities and events", as per KV; and, as per KV/TPCG response, MoEF itself "repeatedly and proudly claiming in international circles how unique and consultative the process was") and transparent (BCIL claiming "Total transparency with all minutes, documents, drafts being available to public" and KV/TPCG claiming "Our own report is in the public domain").
- BCIL website link to "more details about NBSAP" does not work and KV link to "Final Technical Report of the NBSAP" is to a page profiling it as publication priced at Rs.150 or US $15. The Report, which MoEF has rejected as per clarification in Press Note of 05.10.05 and KV has published and released at Hyderabad on 04.10.05 and Pune on 10.10.05, apparently includes local / state / eco-regional / thematic action plans (BCIL mentioning 74 including 18 / 33 / 10 / 13 and KV mentioning 66 including 16 / 28 / 10 / 12), sub-thematic reviews (BCIL mentioning 20 and KV 35) and TPCG documents (BCIL mentioning about 30 and KV over 20).
About fresh NBAP by MoEF, mentioned in MoEF Press Note, response by "P.V.Satheesh / Madhu Sarin / Seema Bhatt / Ashish Kothari / Kanchi Kohli (On behalf of Technical and Policy Core Group)" says: "3. ...We learn that a revised and what is reportedly called final version of the report has been submitted by MoEF to the United Nations Development Programme..."and "5. It is shocking that MoEF is claiming it is starting the process of developing the action plan "afresh". Why has it then given in a final report to UNDP?..."
Meanwhile, website of Regional Biodiversity Programme, Asia (RBP) mentions also IUCN-RBP support to National Biodiversity Authority: "At the invitation of National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) of India, the Regional Biodiversity Programme, Asia participated in an expert committee meeting to discuss and finalise the elements of several agreements (research, commercial utilisation, IPRs and transfer of technology) related to Access and Benefit Sharing, on 23rd July 2005. India is one of the few countries in the world that has a comprehensive national legislation on biodiversity (National Biodiversity Act 2002 and Biological Diversity Rules 2004). IUCN is pleased to be providing support to the National Biodiversity Authority to implement the Act and the Rules"
Right To Information
With MoEF claiming the report is "for the major part scientifically invalid" and KV/TPCG claiming it is based on "inputs from over a hundred expert committees and individual experts" / "some of India's best biodiversity scientists", etc, an impression has arisen of disagreement over (only) "scientific" validity. However, more fundamental questions relate to validity of design of NBSAP "technical component"and even to legal validity of the overlapping initiativesin terms of the provisions of the Biodiversity Act, 2002, whose purpose they impinge.
Specific questions about validity of design cannot be articulated till the methodology is legitimately available. In general, it seems that the so-called technical-component was designed as an exploratory research using participatory advocacy methods and oriented more to projecting the study as uniquely consultative than to technical output of specificity or sufficiency. It is noteworthy that in the information available on KV website by way of KV or KV/TPCG press releases and press reports containing additional quotes from Shekhar Singh as a member of the Steering Committee, MoEF allegation of scientific invalidity is unconvincingly countered with insistence on the consultative nature of the process. Unless the methodology clearly favours scientific output over consultative process in its objectives, its output is arguably not amenable to evaluation in terms of "scientific validity" and the impression of a "controversy" on this count is illusory.
Specific questions about legal validity, such as set out subsequently, can be articulated and it appears that the above-mentioned overlapping initiatives are inconsistent with various provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, notably those requiring key role of National Biodiversity Authority and converging assistance in to Biodiversity Funds and precluding private publication of NBSAP outputs and discretionary "consultative" processes outside the framework of the stipulated mechanism centred on Biodiversity Management Committees. These call for facts of GEF supported NBSAP, fresh NBAP by MoEF and IUCN-RBP support to NBA and for clarification of their legality and propriety in terms of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
If NBSAP, etc, are indeed inconsistent with the Act, then all initiatives arising from them are also vitiated, including "elements of several agreements (research, commercial utilisation, IPRs and transfer of technology) related to Access and Benefit Sharing" being finalised with participation of IUCN-RBP (even though MoEF has rejected NBSAP, specifically noting in its Press-Note that "this international assistance to India has not yielded the expected benefits"). The situation, which MoEF Press Note unfortunately writes off as something merely "unfortunate", has potentially grave implications, besides bearing on WTO negotiations, and calls for rectification. In this regard, the continuing strident defence of NBSAP process (that has occupied crucial years to pre-empt mechanisms provided in the Act) and activities amounting to implementation of NBSAP ideas or replication of NBSAP process (such as the subsequently outlined cases of, respectively, Aravali Biodiversity Park and RTI linked advocacy apropos restructuring of Delhi Jal Board) signal perpetuation of illegalities and improprieties and call also for information about continuing advocacy by NBSAP protagonists, including through use of RTI, with urgency.
Some questions about validity in terms of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002
1. Illegality / impropriety of MoEF-led NBSAP / NBAP
The process by which MoEF selected BCIL, KV, TPCG/Steering-Committee members for NBSAP is not known and merits scrutiny not only in view of MoEF's rejection of the NBSAP report but also because the Act contemplates NBSAP / NBAP led by the National Biodiversity Authority, not Central Government, with s.8 requiring Central Government to establish NBA for, and s.18(3) casting upon NBA responsibility to advise Central Government on matters relating to, the purpose of the Act (which is same as that of NBSAP / NBAP). Further, the duties stipulated for Central Government in s.36 also call for key role of NBA in NBSAP / NBAP: duty u/s.36(1) to "develop national strategies, plans, programmes" does not contemplated Central Government role in state or local action plans; duty u/s.31(5) to "respect and protect the knowledge of local people" specifically says "as recommended by the National Biodiversity Authority through such measures, which may include registration of such knowledge at the local, State or national levels"; and duty u/s.31(3) to "integrate the conservation, promotion and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies" clearly calls for a-priori integration of NBSAP into the framework of the Act.
While s.18 and s.36 were brought into force only on 01.07.04, aligning Central Government's own NBASP project with them would have been readily possible even before. However, KV/TPCG response to MoEF Press Note suggests MoEF (not NBA) was steering the project even after the establishment of NBA on 01.10.03 ("At the Final Steering Committee meeting of the project (January 2004), which was chaired by the Secretary MoEF, it was accepted that the document could be published as the "Final Technical Report" (this is in the minutes of the meeting). Subsequently, in February 2004, MoEF in writing even asked Kalpavriksh to get the report formatted for publication"). Further, even MoEF Press Note of 05.10.05 says "the Ministry" (not NBA) rejected the NBSAP report / will be preparing fresh NBAP.
Both the GEF supported NBSAP and proposed fresh NBAP by MoEF seem inconsistent with, at least, s.18 and s.36 of the Act.
2. Illegality / impropriety of write-off of GEF grant, continuing invitations to IUCN, etc
KV/TPCG response to MoEF Press Note says: "6. ...of the total budget of Rs. 4 crores (US $1 million), Kalpvriksha was given about Rs.20 lakhs... The rest of the money went to over 100 key partners (including several state government agencies, NGOs, community groups, and individual experts, totalling about Rs.2 crores), to the administrative agency BCIL (a corporate agency set up by the Government of India), to the Technical and Policy Core Group (through BCIL), and other items (planning process, training, etc). Kalpvriksha itself was instrumental in changing the original budget of the project, in which MoEF and UNDP had earmarked almost a third of the total to a handful of consultants, to one where the money was far more decentralized".
However, a different scheme for "decentralizing" funds is contemplated in the Act, notably its provisions for National Biodiversity Fund (s.27), assistance to State Biodiversity Boards (s.32(1)b) and local Biodiversity Management Committees (s.43(1)b), etc. No attempt seems to have been made to align disbursement with these since publication of the Act on 05.02.03. Even after these provisions have themselves come into force on 01.07.04, MoEF press note of 05.10.05 says: "the Ministry has rejected the report and has started the process ...afresh. KALPAVRIKSHA was paid more than Rs. 3.00 crore... Unfortunately, this international assistance to India has not yielded the expected benefits".
Bypassing the NBA / Fund seems to serve no purpose other than keep NBSAP accounts (and accounts of fresh NBAP and IUCN-RBP support) out of the purview of mandatory provisions for audit (s.29) and tabling of audit report in Parliament (s.30). It is also entirely unclear how it is open to MoEF to simply write-off the GEF assistance that "has not yielded the expected benefit" or open to NBA to invite IUCN to participate in critical decisions despite rejection of NBSAP report.
3. Illegality of private publication of NBSAP report (including with $ price)
By usual consultancy norms, the NBSAP report commissioned to KV/TPCG is property of MoEF. MoEF has reportedly also specifically asked KV in March 2005 not to publish or in any way make public the NBSAP report. The same has, nevertheless, been published by KV and the publication is described on its website as consisting of "A full-colour booklet containing the Concise Version of the report (about 70 pages)" and "a CD containing the full report in two volumes (approx. 1300 pages)..." and being "priced at Rs.150 or US$15 each...".
Those involved in preparing this report are evidently covered by the definition of "benefit claimers" u/s.2(a) as "creators and holders of knowledge and information". It is also likely that parts of their "study and systematic investigation" fall in the purview of the definition of "research" u/s.2(m). Regulation in terms of s.3, s.4 and s.6 of access to / use of biodiversity related knowledge (including by s.18(2) approvals in terms of s.19, s.20 and s.21 and measures to oppose intellectual property rights outside the country u/s.18(4)) is mandatory u/s.18(1) of the Act.
Even if MoEF does not wish to take action against KV on copyright and contractual grounds, as proprietor of the NBSAP report MoEF needs to clarify how it has assured itself that the publication does not involve any violation of sections 3, 4 and 6 as well as 19, 20 and 21 and, in view of claim of participation of over 50000 persons, etc, does not amount to, say, publishing portions of Biodiversity Registers or otherwise infringing the empowering provisions for local Biodiversity Management Committees.
4. Illegality of discretionary "consultative" processes
NBSAP process was purportedly consultative. BCL website says: "Over 2000 people involved in central way; several tens of thousands in substantial way". And KV/TPCG response says that out of the Rs 4 cr as much as half went to KV, TPCG and BCIL and "The rest of the money went to over 100 key partners (including several state government agencies, NGOs, community groups, and individual experts, totalling about Rs.2 crores)".
The Act, however, envisages a different consultative mechanism. s.41(1) requires all local bodies to constitute Biodiversity Management Committees for the purpose of promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity. s.41(2) makes it incumbent upon the NBA and State Boards to consult these while taking any decision relating to the use of biological resources and associated knowledge within their territorial jurisdiction. s.21(1) requires the Authority to ensure, while granting approvals under s.19 or 20, equitable sharing of benefits on terms agreed also by local bodies and s.24(2) requires State Boards to exercise their regulatory powers in consultation with local bodies. s.27(2)c and s.32(2)d require consultation with local bodies for use of, respectively, National or State Biodiversity Fund for socio-economic development. s.41(3) empowers the Committees to levy charges for accessing or collecting any biological resource. s.43 requires these charges and other accruals, including from NBA or Board, to be credited to Local Biodiversity Fund and s.44 requires use of the Fund in manner as may be prescribed by the State Government, for which s.63 requires rules to be made by State government. (Incidentally, s.62 does not seem contemplate rule-making by Central Government in respect of local committees, a point curiously not raised in the critique of Rule-22 in KV campaign against the Biodiversity Rules, 2004).
The GEF supported NBSAP process was nowhere near as "consultative" as required by the Act. Now IUCN-RBP, GEF solicited partner on NBSAP, at invitation of NBA (which was not involved in the NBSAP, now rejected), has "participated in an expert committee meeting to discuss and finalise the elements of several agreements ...related to Access and Benefit Sharing... is pleased to be providing support to the National Biodiversity Authority".
The NBSAP "consultative" process and the IUCN-RBP "participation" in NBA are evidently arbitrary. They are arguably interfering with progressive establishment of the comprehensive mechanism for decentralized decision-making that is envisaged in the Act and, in any event, fail to meet mandatory requirements for consultative decisions. As such, strategies, agreements, etc, based on them are de horsthe Act.
Examples of related activities of NBSAP protagonists / associates
1. Aravali Biodiversity Park: Implementation of NBSAP ideas
The Aravali Bio-diversity Park (ABdP) proposal was mooted in 2003, with direct / indirect support of those associated with the NBSAP that was underway. In 2004 Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommended the proposal to Supreme Court on basis of the report by Shekhar Singh (NBSAP Steering Committee member) whom CEC co-opted as a special invitee to examine an NGO application for "preservation of environment and biodiversity" in the area. KV and others, including those mentioned on its website, claiming both biodiversity expertise and activities in Aravali Ridge did not oppose ABdP and at least a few supported it with press comments.
The 223 Ha site is outside the designated Aravali Ridge. Comprising mainly of disused quarries of Lal Khet, it includes 35 Ha of land earmarked for residential use in Delhi Master Plan and abuts a plot auctioned in 2003 for Malls. The Malls are under construction and using the Park as a USP in sales promotion. The ABdP site itself is being used also to discharge sewerage, as per DDA counter-affidavit of 2005 - the first reply in a PIL filed in 2003 to, inter alia, challenge the Malls and ABdP project as well as other nearby projects within designated Aravali Ridge that were then starting / proposed in contravention of the Master Plan and CGWA notification. While this PIL (arising from efforts of citizens in the area since 2000) was pending before High Court, the NGO application for "preservation of environment and biodiversity" was made. Communications to CEC did not lead to hearing in view of the PIL and copies to respondents (including DDA and Delhi Government) and also MoEF did not lead to reference to it in their pleadings before CEC. Shekhar Singh submitted his report on 07.07.04 after which CEC heard the applicants and respondents on 08.07.04 and 26.07.04. Development of ABdP began in earnest with eviction of over 1000 families in old communities of erstwhile quarry workers on 29.07.04 (the first massive clearance operation after UPA took over and first overt breach of CMP).
Alongside ABdP development, work on the other projects challenged in the PIL also progressed. Elsewhere in ridge area, Delhi Government allotted to Bombay Natural History Society, named in KV/TPCG response to MoEF press note, land in Asola Forest for a Centre that CM inaugurated this year and near Tughlaqabad about 20 Ha of Master Plan green is proposed to be used for an illegal builder scheme being promoted by certain other NGOs. What Shekhar Singh recommended amounts to an idea for ex-situconservation of Aravali biodiversity in an ABdP outside the designated Ridge, to spare the designated Ridge for a slew of illegal projects.
MoEF had written to CEC and reiterated at hearing on 26.07.04 its reservations about expertise of Shekhar Singh in the field of biodiversity. It is not known if it referred to the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, by which it was hardly open to an NGO to apply for or CEC to recommend ABdP, as s.37 requires state government to notify areas of biodiversity importance in consultation with local bodies, frame rules for their management in consultation with central government and schemes for compensating and rehabilitating affected people, for which s.32(2)b provides for use of State Biodiversity Fund. MoEF should have been able to intervene, with s.18(3)b calling for NBA advice to state governments in identification and management of such sites, s.48 making central government directions on questions of policy binding on NBA, s.60 empowering it to issue directions to state governments and s.36(2) requiring it to issue directives and offer assistance to them if it "has reason to believe that any area rich in biological diversity, biological resources and their habitats is being threatened by overuse, abuse or neglect". Yet - and contrary to mandated duties under s.36(5) (to "respect and protect the knowledge of local people", who were unceremoniously evicted), s.36(4)(i) (to "where appropriate provide for public participation in such assessment", neglected despite pendency of PIL in High Court), s.36(3) (to "integrate the conservation, promotion and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans", which required at least compensation of 35 Ha of Master Plan residential land) - ABdP came to pass.
ABdP connects to NBSAP through s.36(1) ("The Central Government shall develop national strategies, plans, programmes for the conservation and promotion and sustainable use of biological diversity including measures for identification and monitoring of areas rich in biological resources, promotion of in situ, and ex situ, conservation of biological resources, incentives for research, training and public education to increase awareness with respect to biodiversity") and through the fact that those whose apparent complicity prevailed over MoEF reservations and the law to allow ABdP are also named in the continuing strident defence of NBSAP after its rejection by MoEF.
2. Delhi Jal Board Restructuring: Replication of NBSAP style process
A national land and water use plan is ostensibly a key recommendation of NBSAP. In Delhi the ridge and riverbed, Biodiversity areas, have historically guided holistic land and water use planning, with Delhi Master Plan and CGWA notifications now providing legal basis. This is being eroded by the view of river in terms of pollution and ridge in terms of forest and, on the other hand, delinking of utilities from Delhi Development Act regime (notably by converting power and water utilities to Boards for shoddy privatisation). A striking consequence is illegal land and ground water use in ridge and riverbed, usually at instance of Delhi Government (which does not bother to file replies on these even on court orders). The water crisis is a symptom of this malaise, headed to environmental catastrophe due to ground water mining. The Biodiversity Act that makes it a duty u/s.36(3) to "integrate the conservation, promotion and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans", besides their own key recommendation, required NBSAP partners to support Master Plan and CGWA regimes. Instead, some picked Master Plan 2021 Public Notice period to divert attention from the move to transfer ground water control to DJB and focus it on some alleged interference by World Bank in appointing Price Waterhouse Coopers consultant for road-mapping DJB restructuring (in which ground water control by DJB is obviously central).
In July 2005 newspapers started reporting, nearly exclusively, the views on Delhi water and sewage project of the NGO Parivartan, identified with RTI and one Arvind Kejriwal (IRS officer on extraordinary leave) and named in KV campaign about Biodiversity Rules in 2004. Parivartan demanded abandoning of World Bank plan in favour of some consultative process. Apart from generalities about benefit to MNCs, higher tariffs, etc, it alleged that inspection of DJB records under RTI indicated PwC had been hired as consultant under Bank pressure. On 29 July (when it was also reported that DJB had sent the PwC report to Planning Commission) the Hindu reported revelation, by Aruna Roy "who has been the big force behind the Right to Information movement", of the 4,000-odd pages of "secret documents" obtained through RTI. On 30 July newspapers reported World Bank clarification: "The original shortlist included firms only from developed country, this is why the bank asked that a firm from a developing country be included. In response, DJB included PwC India. When financial bids of the firms were publicly opened, PwC won on the combined score of a cheaper financial offer". The Hindu reported on 01 August Parivartan demand that the Bank place all its correspondence on the subject in public domain. On 26 August was reported the Bank's rebuttal that also advised Parivartan to make its complaint directly to Washington and reiterated that the Bank, bound by its Disclosure Policy, will fully concur with any disclosure decided upon by Delhi Government under RTI Act.
Meanwhile, the Hindu had reported on 02 August that "the matter has now reached Congress president Sonia Gandhi who is understood to have sought details on the issue" and in detail the criticism, based almost entirely on revelations by Roy, Kejriwal, etc, by Delhi BJP on 04 August and by CPI on 14 August. On 17 August news reports of DJB presentation to Planning Commission quoted CM saying: "The Commission has asked us to make the entire procedure ...more transparent. We have decided to post everything... on the government's website" and "if there is any NGO or any organisation of repute with any queries, we will answer them". On 24 August was reported a two hour meeting between Roy, Kejriwal, etc, and CM, Chief Secretary, etc. CM was quoted saying, "They made their presentation and we assured them that we won't rush into any agreement... We also asked them about suggestions and solutions for water management ... to suggest a panel of experts...since they said they were not water experts". Aruna Roy was quoted saying: "We asked the government to find solutions through Bhagidari, hold meetings in different zones and invite technical groups before formulating the water policy in Delhi", etc. The group was to make a similar presentation to LG the next day.
On 23 September was reported the tabling of Delhi Water Board (Amendment) Bill, 2005 (to transfer control of groundwater to DJB) that was referred to a Committee in face of opposition - on account merely of the proposals for charges for tube-wells and with no connection being made to the privatisation predicated upon DJB being able to mine ground water to facilitate the private players. Also on 23 September, the Hindu carried a news item titled "Mystery surrounding 24x7 scheme deepens" about presentation by Roy, Kejriwal, etc, made now at Planning Commission to "Four members... and several officials from the Water Department", none of whom, according to the release by Roy, etc, had any knowledge of the Commission having received any reference from DJB. The "success" with which the water discourse in Delhi was subsumed in a single position, that of Roy, Kejriwal, etc, was evidenced by the letter of 23 September to PM from left parties that reiterated it, along with its original demands for abandoning the Bank proposal (which Delhi Government claimed within the week to have put on hold at least) and for a consultative process, while making no reference to the Bill, ground water, Master Plan, DDA, etc.
RWAs, besides IIT / IIM professors, etc, have also been reiterating the same highly publicized position. Power privatisation discontent seems to have been directed against not water privatisation but World Bank / PwC with reliance not on robust regimes being dismantled (even as Public Notice hearings for Master Plan 2021 began on 03 October) but on RTI Act. The facts are that the purported expose by RTI of irregularities in PwC contract has come to naught, and, despite high-level follow-up by Aruna Roy herself on other points arising from 4000 pages procured by RTI (and well known in general even without them), disclosure promised by CM has not come about and even information of reference to Planning Commission and loan application withdrawal is not known for a fact. Yet Aruna Roy and Shekhar Singh (who is also national convener of of RTI campaign) have, on the same day that KV/TPCG issued their response to MoEF Press Note, urged all to observe Demand-Information-Week during 13-20 October and the 3-month old group on water in Delhi has urged CM to depute senior officials to attend on 17 October its "Jansunvai" at which its panel of retired Justices and others will "pass its verdict" on the "controversial reforms". For some the Right to know extends to Right to tell - in NBSAP style consultative process, likely to be facilitated if the rest of us occupy ourselves with using RTI to spam the system (likely to be facilitated by the persuasive group mails with Act and Form-A that have already begun).