Concerns regarding the proposal to privatise water delivery and ensuring water accessibility to all sections of society were among the major points debated at a discussion on the draft National Water Policy organised by Water Resources Department here on Thursday.

The discussion was held as part of the World Water Day celebrations.

Speaking at the function, Centre for Development Studies (CDS) faculty K. Pushpangadhan said the envisaging water as an economic good, as indicated in the draft Water Policy, was necessary to build efficient delivery systems. He said water as a national resource needed to be regulated and innovative methods had to be developed to ensure efficient water delivery services.

Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Thiruvananthapuram, director Nandakumar said the draft policy missed prioritisation of delivery services to the common man and the underprivileged.

He said while water had become precious and costly today, it was still necessary to ensure that access to safe drinking water was not denied to anyone.

Kerala Water Authority Employees Union general secretary J. Mohankumar said the draft policy would lead to the commoditisation of water through privatisation. Being a natural resource in the public domain, water delivery should not come with a price tag. He added that the move to commodify water was inhuman.

Mr. Mohankumar added that the draft Water Policy, which was published only on the internet, was not made available for the non-English speaking people who did not have access to internet. “Because of this, meaningful discussion about the policy has not been made possible,” he said. Water Works Employees Union general secretary G. Sasi said a discussion on the draft policy was no more relevant as the period for public discussion and collection of opinions from the members of the public for amendment of the policy was over by February 29.

The “failure” of the draft policy to address the environmental and economic needs of water was also pointed out in the discussion.

Kerala Water Authority (KWA) technical member Susan Jacob; KWA Staff Association general secretary V. Abdul Basheer; and All Kerala Water Authority Employees Union general secretary M.M. George also participated in the discussion. Association of Public Health Engineers (APHEK) president S. Harris was the moderator of the discussion. Centre for Water Resource Development and Management scientist P.S. Harikumar also participated.

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