chapter  8
Water Rights in Civil Society and Governance
The Sri Lankan Experience
ByRuana Rajepakse
Pages 27

Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. The legal status of water is an essential precursor to understanding water rights. The rationale for having a National Water Policy is perhaps best expressed in the preamble to India's National Water Policy: Water as a resource is one and indivisible; rainfall, river waters, surface ponds and lakes are all part of one system. Groundwater is said to account for more than 85 percent of safe drinking water in the rural areas of most Asian countries, including Sri Lanka. Due to its drought reliability, good natural quality and continuous availability, groundwater has become immensely important for human water supply. The reputation of most of the leading water companies worldwide is so bad that any attempt to introduce them into Sri Lanka would be likely to meet with considerable civil society resistance.