Fri, 21 Mar 2003

Analysts warn of revolt over water

JAKARTA: A number of activists and analysts are warning the government of the potential for a social revolution should it go ahead with its large water privatization plan.

Analyst Hendro Sungkoyo said on Thursday that privatizing water would force farmers to pay water charges and restrict the poor from access to clean water, as privatization would treat water as a commodity, and not as a basic right.

"Water should not be treated as a commodity, as the poor will not get water if it is traded ... so beware that in sub-villages, farmers and the poor will fight against water privatization," he said at a seminar on water privatization.

Henry Saragih of the Indonesian Farmers Federation (FSPI) and senior journalist Maria Hartiningsih concurred with Hendro.

Maria said poor families would be burdened by water privatization as they would have to allocate up to 30 percent of their earnings toward water, as is generally the case in many countries. -- JP