Cabinet Ministers of the Government have approved proposals to bring new laws and launch a pilot project towards making the water resources a commodity.
In a proposal presented to the cabinet by Rauf Hakim, Minister for Town Planing and Water Supply, it is planned to regulate Water Services Industry in the island.
In a separate proposal produced by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, a Groundwater Monitoring Network is to be established. As a pilot project, in 3 selected districts, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Monaragala, mapping the groundwater resources according to qualitative and quantitative indicators will be commenced. Those above preparatory steps are to establish water resources revealing the richness of natural water resources islandwide.
The two proposals have already been approved by the Cabinet. Estimated cost of the mapping groundwater project within three districts is 20.63 million Euros, and 85% of the cost will be borne by Rabobank of Netherland. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, is now mandated to enter into relevant loan agreements.
To create an environment to make water resources a commodity, regulations and legal institutions are required. The government in the guise of protecting water consumer rights, planning to establish a Water Services Industry Act. Such an act is mere to establish a Water Services Industry and to facilitate the companies who are interested in marketing the water resources. The cabinet paper clearly states the intention to attract investments in the Water Services Industry. Accordingly, the proposal made by Rauff Hakeem, Minister of City Planning and Water Supply, to instruct Legal Draftsman to draft Water Services Industries Bill for regulating this industry, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Experiences in neibouring India, Latin America and other countries prove that the steps taken by the present government are similar to turning water resources to a commodity which created immense difficulties for the common people and subsequent calamities in such countries.