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Bill on drinking water leads to clashes

Slovak MPs on July 2 debated almost solely the bill stipulating, among other things, conditions for selling drinking water abroad.

Slovak MPs on July 2 debated almost solely the bill stipulating, among other things, conditions for selling drinking water abroad.

There is currently no legitimate tool in Slovakia to prohibit the export of water, and if someone decides to export it abroad, they will do so, Environment Minister Peter Žiga said during a parliamentary debate on the amendment Water Act, adding that he wants to regulate this process with the new legislation.

However, Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) MP Igor Hraško reacted by saying that Žiga should immediately withdraw his proposal that would amend the current Water Act. Hraško said this at a press conference, while wearing a Slovak folk costume. He described the bill, currently being debated in parliament, as “hideous”.

“A relevant study concerning the need for and reserves of water in Slovakia should be carried out. Let’s take steps in order to protect our people’s [right to] access water in 50 and 100 years,” said Hraško. “Minister Žiga doesn’t know the amount of potable water reserves [in Slovakia], but he wants to allocate licences for surpluses to opportunists.”

Žiga has rejected the claims of the opposition and non-governmental organisations that he wants to privatise the country’s water reserves. “The claim that the amendment introduces privatisation is a lie and nonsense,” said Žiga, adding that water reserves must remain the property of the state.

Around 60,000 people have already signed a petition organised by Hraško and NGO Ekoforum, which urges Žiga to drop from the legislation paragraphs that allow exports of drinking water abroad.

“With the new law we guarantee the water supply, as has been the case so far,” Žiga said for TASR. “If someone comes to the local district authority now and says that they want to exploit water, basically after meeting certain conditions they can receive formal authorisation for water extraction and can sell it to anyone abroad.”

(Source: TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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