Equitable distribution of potable water and realization of water charges to make the ‘Supply and Distribution System’ self-sustainable in South East countries- Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand
Water is sine quo non for existence / sustainability of living beings and environment on the earth. Water use may broadly be placed under (a) Domestic, (b) Irrigation, (c) Hydropower and (d) Industrial categories. Most of the countries of the world have accorded top priority to domestic need of water. Maximum use of water is in irrigation sector. Generally, realization of water charges particularly for irrigation use is unsatisfactory. Recovery of water charges is not even enough to meet the regular annual maintenance cost of supply and distribution system. Inadequate recovery of water charges hampers satisfactory functioning ofsystem. Poor maintenance of system adversely impacts satisfactory service to users. When users are dissatisfied, recovery becomes casualty. Infact, poor recovery of water charges generates a vicious syndrome. Recovery of water charges is poor because service is poor and other way service is poor so recovery of water charges is poor. Water charges may be devised,in a way, and realized timely to make water supply and distribution system self-sustainable. Further, tier system of water rates may be devised and introduced to keep social and financial status of water users in focus, particularly while deciding water rates for rural folks and poor urban class.
The paper deals with the basic profile of the water resource at world level along with the four south eastern countries namely Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Further, it explains about the quantum of water available for different uses including domestic, irrigation, hydropower and industries in these countries.The paper, also describes the reasons behind non-payment of water charges as it hampers the satisfactory functioning of the system. Accordingly, suggestions have been made, keeping in view the social and financial status of the water users.
The outcome of the paper is mainly based on the information collected from primary as well as secondary sources including field visits to the said countries. It is inferred that developing a master plan encompassing water availability, sectoral demands, conjuctive use of ground water and surface water and systematic upgradation of conveyance and treatment systems is the need of hour. The Master plans should also cover infrastructure development and investment plans for implementing the work in phased manner.