UNP trying to sell water rights to multinational giants – UPFA


by Dasun Edirisinghe

The UPFA yesterday claimed that the present UNP government had presented a Cabinet paper to prepare a water policy and Act to transfer water rights to multinational companies and to fix a price for water.

Addressing the media at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party headquarters, former Minister Wimal Weerawansa said the then UNP government in 2001 had also attempted to introduce a Water Act, but its attempt had failed due to protests and the Ranil Wickremesinghe government had fallen two weeks later.

He said the Cabinet proposal to formulate the water policy had been presented by Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage Rauff Hakeem, instead of Irrigation Minister Vijith Wijayamuni Zoysa.

Weerawansa said the Irrigation Minister had opposed the paper being presented amidst the opposition of officials and scientists of the Irrigation Department, but it had been passed.

"According to our observations, the people will now have to pay taxes for drinking water, water used for irrigation purposes, digging a well and releasing waste water," he said, adding that the government planned to form a new Authority for water and involved the private sector in the task. Weerawansa said in Peru people had to pay USD 3 for one cubic metre of water. He challenged Rauff Hakeem or Wijayamuni Zoysa to come for an open TV debate on the issue if they denied it.

"We will cancel that Cabinet paper under a UPFA government after August 17," Weerawansa said, adding that the UNP was in a hurry to implement new projects instead of implementing unfulfilled 100 -day programme promises.

Former Minister and leader of the Democratic Left

Front Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that access to water was a fundamental right in Sri Lanka and they could not fix a price on it.

He said water could not be treated as a commodity, but the policies of UNP governments always furthered the interests of multinational companies at the expense of the people.

Nanayakkara said that now the UNP was in a caretaker government and they could not take new decisions. They could only maintain the government until the election is over.

Former Minister Dilan Perera, who came to the media conference with a ‘pot’ in protest of the Cabinet proposal said the UNP government knew that they would have to face a defeat at the August 17 election and that was the reason why they were in a hurry to implement some projects.

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