Pro water supply privatisation speaker earns audience wrath

Chairs hurled on dias, speakers run for cover

Kathmandu, January 18:

The public hearing programme organised here today by the NGO Forum for Urban Water and Sanitation to discuss “privatisation” of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC) turned into a virtual battlefield as the audience started hurling chairs at the stage.

The audience lost patience and began hurling plastic chairs on the dias as the first speaker, Tirtha Raj Onta, representing the civil society, started advocating the government decision to lease the NWSC to a foreign party.

As a result, representatives of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, NWSC and Melamchi Water Supply Project left the stage and took refuge in the office of the KMC’s Hanumandhoka Project. Former mayor Keshav Sthapit was trying to find a safe place behind the stage.

“These are all agents of the ADB. They are getting commission in dollars,” said someone from the audience.

Agitating staffers of the NWSC were also present during the public hearing. They were about to leave as they were not pleased with the remarks of the first speaker. The programme anchor tried to pacify the mass, saying people taking part in the programme will be given time to ask questions, but the audience had got agitated by then.

Members of the Water and Energy Users’ Federation-Nepal distributed leaflets expressing solidarity with the NWSC staffers. They also demanded that privatisation of the NWSC be stopped immediately.

Terming the incident unfortunate, the NGO Forum said the incident barred local people from knowing about the present management contract signed between the government and the foreign party.