Privatisation of water supply to invite protests

Kathmandu, December 5:

The passage of controversial bills on water policy in the House is all set to invite large-scale protests in the streets very soon.

The government passed the Water Utility Tariff Commission Bill 2063 and the Water Utility Management Board Bill 2063 last month. The move will allow the government to privatise the country’s water-distributing body.

Maoist leader Hisila Yami today opposed the passage of the bills and said it was a violation of human rights. She said citizens will be deprived of their basic needs and be slaves to multinational donors. “We cannot let this happen,” she told The Himalayan Times.

She added that the government, while passing the bills, had ignored an agreement with the Maoists.

Jyoti Bania, the general secretary of Consumers’ Protection Forum Nepal, said consumers would show their strength in the streets and force the government to take back its “irrational” decision.

Baniya said if the Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC) is handed over to a foreign company, the source, distribution line and other infrastructure will remain the same and the quantity and quality of water will not improve.

“After the NWSC falls in the hands of a private company, the monthly tariff will go up by 50 per cent and once a pipe line is discontinued, consumers will have to pay 200 to 1,000 per cent more than what they are paying now,” he said.

Rights activist Dr Mathura Prasad Shrestha said the passage of the bills is the handiwork of corrupt officials. Advocate Gopal Shivakoti Chintan said “commission-seekers” are behind the bills’ passage.

The manager of the NWSC, Hari Prasad Dhakal, himself is not convinced with the idea of privatising the water body. “We don’t know why the government wants to privatise our corporation. We can do better if we are given a free hand,” he said.