Today, the National Assembly hosted a public hearing with the topic: "Water treatment and the role of local self-governments", organised by the Environmental Protection Committee.
The Chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee Dr Ljubinko Rakonjac stated that this public hearing is being held on World Water Day, established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution in 1992 and observed a year later for the first time. In this way the United Nations wanted to remind the public of the importance of water and its protection, as well as the lack of drinking water in many parts of the world, said Rakonjac.
He added that the Committee had decided to hold a public hearing on this topic at the initiative of the coordinator of the National Assembly’s Focus Group for the Development of Control Mechanisms for the Process of Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, Dr Milorad Mijatovic.
In his address, Mijatovic pointed out that the National Assembly has set environmental protection as one of its priorities and that it is very important to talk about the vital yet limited resource that is water. Serbia is rich in water, but, Mijatovic emphasised, the question arises - how long will it be like that. He stressed that according to estimates by 2050, every fourth citizen of the planet lack drinking water. That is why wastewater treatment is of exceptional importance, Mijatovic pointed out, stating that though the two largest cities - Belgrade and Novi Sad, do not have a wastewater treatment systems, great efforts are invested into overcoming this problem. Mijatovic concluded that local communities must make significant efforts to resolve the issue of water treatment, pointing out that it is important to conduct public campaigns on the topic in order to raise the awareness of the citizens from an early age.
Assistant Minister of Environmental Protection Filip Abramovic pointed out that wastewater treatment is one of the priority areas of the Ministry's work. The Ministry is working on the preparation of legislation and bylaws, to be followed by their implementation, said Abramovic. He also pointed out that the Ministry has a successful cooperation with the representatives of local self-governments, as the ones in charge of this communal activity. Thanks to that cooperation, today, 28 local self-governments are ready to work on the installation of wastewater treatment plants. Along with it, they are also working on covering the local self-governments with a sewerage system, Abramovic said in the conclusion of his address.
Dobrila Kujundzic, Head of the Group for the protection of water from pollution at the Republic Water Directorate, pointed out that the protection of water from pollutants is a great challenge that lies ahead. It is important to provide a water supply for the citizens and at the same time protect water from pollution. She stated that a wide range of institutions and regulations cover the organisation of municipal wastewater treatment and local self-governments are willing to cooperate, even at the inter-municipal and inter-regional level.
Dr Ivana Vilotijevic, representative of the City of Belgrade Environmental Protection Secretariat, Miodrag Gluscevic, Programme Director of the Sector for Urban Development, Environment and Communal Services of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Dr Aleksandar Lucic, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of JKP "Gradska cistoca" and Osman Balic, representative of the Standing Conference of Roma Citizens' Associations (SKRUG) spoke about the role and competencies of local self-governments in water treatment.
Following a discussion, the Chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee Dr Ljubinko Rakonjac concluded the public hearing saying that the Committee would continue to organise public hearings on water and other natural resources and to deal, within its competencies, with all important topics related to environmental protection.