water crisis.......

Water crisis will deepen in the country, activists warn

Adianto P. Simamora

The booming business of bottled water and its privatization will further
block people from accessing cheap and clean water resources, threatening
millions with a serious water crisis, warn activists.

Activists from the Committee of Saving State Assets, the Indonesian Forum
for Environment (Walhi) and the Indonesian Farmer Union renewed their calls
on the government to review the 2007 law on water resources, which allows
private companies to manage piped water.

"Water privatization must end. There must be review of articles in the 2007
law on water resources," the coordinator of the Committee of Saving State
Assets, Marwan Batubara, who is also a member of the Regional
Representatives Council
, told a dialogue Thursday.

He said the government needed to shift its focus to providing access to
clean water for everyone.

Currently, only 28 percent of the country's population, mostly in urban
areas, has access to piped water.

Indonesia, one of the signatory members of the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs), is required to give 65 percent of the population access to piped
water.

The government has blamed financial problems as the main obstacle to meeting
this target, saying it would need about Rp 80 trillion to provide access to
piped water to 10 million households.

Walhi's executive director, Berry Forqan, said the government's poor control
of bottled water companies had blocked people's access to their own water
resources
.

"However, it seems the government is yet to open their eyes to this
problem," he said.

He said the recent rejection of a bottled water company to operate in Curung
Goong village, Banten, by local residents, should highlight the public's
concern of access to water resources.

According to Walhi, there are 246 water companies operating in the country
that produced 4.2 billion liters of bottled water in 2001. Of those
companies, about 65percent of the bottled water in the country was produced
by two foreign companies, the Aqua brand, by the Danone group and Ades, by
the Coca-Cola company.

Business expert Erwin Ramedhan said the government needed to investigate the
bottled water companies to ensure their production was equal to their
business permits.

"The government needs to audit the companies to evaluate the number of water
springs they exploit to get the water," he said.

The country has long been under pressure to deal with poor water management,
which causes floods in the rainy seasons and severe water crises during
drought periods.

Aside from the water supply, the government has also failed to improve the
quality of clean water.

A 2008 report by the state environment ministry revealed that the qualities
of water in rivers, basins and lakes continued to be heavily polluted by
domestic and industrial waste.

Sumber : The Jakarta Post

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