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Investment of private sector in drinking water viable: Experts



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By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Sept. 23: Investment from private sector could be attracted towards the drinking water and sanitation projects in Nepal, experts have said.
Clause 4 of the Right to Health under Article 35 of the Constitution of Nepal states that every citizen has the right to have access to clean drinking water and sanitation, but only 20 per cent of the population does have the access to clean drinking water so far, experts said at a webinar organised by Smart Habitat Solutions on Sunday.
Speaking at the programme, Upendra Poudyal, banker and regional representative of the Global Alliance for Banking on Value in the Asia Pacific, said that the investment of banks could come if the government put drinking water and sanitation in the priority sector.
He said, "Even in the 1990s, Nepal's banks did not think that they could and should invest in hydropower, but since the government has made it a priority, banks have been investing heavily in the hydropower sector."
Kebal Bhandari, secretary at the National Planning Commission, said there was a need for alternative programmes to support the government efforts to provide clean drinking water and sanitation services to all the people by achieving the goals set by the Constitution, the 15th Periodic Plan and the National Programme for Sustainable Development. He said that local banks could invest in small projects.
Suman Shakya, director of Smart Water, said that programmes had begun in 140 schools in his own initiative to provide clean drinking water to the public sector. He expressed confidence that clean water and sanitation services could be provided across the country.
Presenting a working paper on the programme, Dr. Dinesh Manandhar, Advisor on Drinking Water and Sanitation, said that the current investment by the government would make it difficult to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the field of drinking water and sanitation by 2030 BS.
Presenting another paper, former member of the National Planning Commission Dr. Chandra Mani Adhikari said that investment in water would bring multiple benefits, adding that investment in clean drinking water and sanitation would improve the health of the common people. Healthy citizens have higher productivity, he added.
Chief Executive Officer of Smart Vas Solutions Pvt. Hari Prasad Sharma said that to achieve the targets set by the United Nations for the drinking water and sanitation sector by 2030, the government should double the amount allocated in this sector in the coming years, but it would be still impossible to attract the private sector.
Commenting on the working papers presented at the programme, former secretary engineer Suman Prasad Sharma pointed out the possibility of private investment in the field of drinking water and sanitation as urban consumers are paying fees and such fees are similar to electricity. He also mentioned that up to 50 per cent of the cost has been covered by a public-private partnership and 50 per cent of the cost has been borne by the consumers. 

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