"It’s Allah’s water, but we have to pay so much for it. When our bill is too high, my husband gets angry, asking me if I am running a Turkish hamam. But when the clothes and food are not clean, then he complains about that.”
"Allah's rain is bottled and sold"
Sevgi Demir (46), a housewife living in Istanbul’s Güngören neighbourhood, further complains: “Allah creates the rain, but companies bottle it and sell it to us. This is unfair, and the people suffer for it.”
She says she feels stupid for having to pay for drinking water. Those people in Istanbul and other big cities who can afford to do not drink the tap water, but buy big plastic containers filled with “spring water”.
Demir is married and has two children. Because of the crisis, she says, she is using water very sparingly:
“I use the water left over from the tea to wash the dishes, and then I use the water from washing the dishes to clean the balcony.”
Company profits are reason for water sales
Pointing out that Istanbul is surrounded by water, Demir wonders why there are water problems. She believes that commercial interests are the reason behind people not drinking tap water:
“One day they said that we should not drink tap water, that we might get poisoned. And then suddenly a demand for bottled drinking water was created. We were forced to spend a considerable percentage of our income on drinking water. I think this is all the game of companies, and when I think about it, I get angry.”
Discussions on environment hard to understand
Demir believes that companies sacrifice the environment and people for the sake of profits. She admits to not understanding the debates on global warming, the environment and the commercialisation of water:
“So many people talk on TV and in newspapers, but neither I nor my neighbours understand what they are saying. It is like a foreign language. I would like experts to use simple language that we can also understand.”
Topbaş should go
As for the upcoming local elections (on 29 March), Demir wants to see the back of Kadir Topbaş, the current mayor of Greater Istanbul from the Justice and Development Party (AKP). She may vote for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), but is wary of all candidates.
She was not aware of other candidates, such as Akın Birdal, the candidate supported by various groups on the left, and Mehmet Bekaroğlu, candidate for the Felicity (Saadet) Party – “you never see them on TV.”
Returning to the issue of water, Demir said, “We used to say that water was sacred, but now you have to be rich to use it.” (BÇ/AG)
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