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Thursday, 18 November 2004  
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Water resources will not be privatised: 
Prof. Vitharana

by Florence Wickramage

The Government will not in the name of management privatise water resources because the elected representatives of the people are able and responsible for the proper management of these resources for the public's benefit', Science and Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana said yesterday.

Prof. Vitharana as chief guest delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the two day International Conference on Sustainable Water Resources Management in the Changing Environment of the Monsoon Region which began at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, said: "Sri Lanka had been under tremendous pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to fashion our future developments on perhaps on the developed countries which models are not applicable to the needs of our country.

They wanted us to convert the small farmer which is part of our culture, into large scale commercial farmers towards an agri-business. On April 2 the people rejected those policies which if implemented would have ended in disaster".

The Government has a responsibility to ensure that every citizen be they rich or poor gets enough water for their needs and is prepared to even give this resource free of charge to the small scale farmer to irrigate his small plot of land, the Minister said.

Prof. Vitharana observed that our surface and ground water resources get polluted due to the use of banned pesticides use in agriculture being imported as "bulk chemicals" that even the Customs authorities would find it difficult to identify.

Today the world is facing an increasing water crisis predicted to worsen by 2025, due to mismanaged systems. There is a need to look afresh at the problems in the water sector and meet the challenges since Sri Lanka is faced with the problem of badly managed water resources, the Minister said.

This has to be done not on the basis of the `yardstick' temptingly called today as Globalisation whose advantages have been grabbed by the powerful and the rich under the new liberal thinking of `profit', he said.

Prof. Hans van Ginkel of the United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan, Professor C.M. Maddumabandara, Prof. Srikantha Herath and K.S.R de Silva of the local organising committee also spoke.

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