‘Unrestricted access to clean water, a must’

‘Unrestricted access to clean water, a must’

‘Water and air are essentials for the origin and survival of humans,
animals and plants. Unrestricted access to clean water and air is a
pre-requisite and a right of living species, Prime Minister D M
Jayaratne said.

The Premier was addressing the conference on Community and Water
Services Challenge and Sustainability in Kandy on September 29.

He said, “I am extremely happy that I could participate at the
inauguration of this important international conference on ‘Community
and Water Services’ a subject which is very much closer to my heart.
Hailing from rural up-country surroundings and having held ministerial
positions of Agriculture, Agriculture Development and Plantation
Industries for a considerable length of time, I am quite familiar and
knowledgeable on the theme of today’s conference. I am thankful to Water
Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardane, for providing me this
opportunity to share my thoughts on this important subject with the
participants at this conference.

“In fact, all civilizations of the world originated and flourished
thousands of years ago close to river basins where water was plentifully
available for the domestic use, agriculture and animal husbandry of the
people of these civilizations.

“Sri Lanka’s history which goes back to over 2,500 years records the
yeoman service rendered by Sri Lankan kings who constructed thousands of
large, medium and small scale irrigation tanks and canals in the dry
zone of the country to conserve water during rainy seasons to be used
for agriculture and domestic requirements of the people during off

“Those irrigation tanks spread in all parts of North Central, North
Western, Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka are even today the
main sources of water for paddy cultivation and other agriculture
pursuits of those provinces. Successive governments, through the
initiative of Water Supply and Drainage Board, had endeavoured to
provide pipe-borne water not only to the urban areas but also to rural
areas in the country. But National Water Supply and Drainage Board had
managed so far to provide only 30% of country’s population with
pipe-borne water.

“There is yet a considerable section of the rural population in the
country not having easy access to clean water because of paucity of
rainfall in those areas.

“Lack of accessibility to safe water in the agriculture based rural
economies thus impact adversely on the socio-economic well-being of the
rural community which lead to rural urban migration.

“Sri Lanka has over 15 years of experience promoting community
organizations to provide their own water supply and sanitation
facilities through community water supply and sanitation projects. Over
3500 community based organizations that were formed to implement the
projects are now empowered to manage, operate and maintain these

“Similar to Sri Lanka, other countries of the Asian region too had
promoted rural communities and households to execute and maintain
community water service systems.

“The lessons learnt in implementing such projects and experience
gathered over the years on this subject by the respective participants
could be certainly of mutual benefit to them.

“Before concluding my speech, I wish to draw the attention of the
participants of this important seminar to the increased tendency for
water pollution in the countries of the Asian region through excessive
use of fertilizer and pesticides in agriculture and plantations in these
countries,” the PM said.

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