The government is to introduce legislation to regulate the use of groundwater, especially for commercial purposes, officials said today. They said the legislation being prepared by the Irrigation and Water Management Ministry would include measures to conserve spring water and prevent pollution.
Ministry’s Additional Director (Technical) P.U. Wickramaratne said similar attempts were made in the past to introduce such legislation but the efforts were stymied by politically motivated public resistance.
“This Bill will not affect the use of well water for domestic consumption. However, we intend to restrict the use of groundwater for commercial purposes. The pumping out of an excessive amount of well water will affect water resources in the entire area,” Mr. Wickramaratne said and added that constructions, which blocked natural springs, would also be prohibited.
He said the present irrigation law would also be amended soon.
“The law does not have the teeth to take action against those encroaching on lands reserved for irrigation tanks and reservoirs,” he said.
Legislation to regulate the use of ground water introduced by the 1994-2001 Peoples Alliance (PA) government was widely criticized by the then opposition as an attempt to privatize water resources in the country. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) even conducted a series of seminars and hurled various allegations against the government.
At the time the JVP said such moves would place an economic value on water, and therefore even farmers would be compelled to pay for the use of water used for agricultural purposes. (Kelum Bandara)