Victor Orlov: Water Code is the first experience of liberalization of the landuse.
: 18/07/2006
: Indigenous Issues

Today on the 176th plenary meeting of the Council of the Federation the Water Code of the Russian Federation was approved (121 For, 4 Against and 9 abstentions). The senators passed the Code with the conditions, that before the law will come into force, there will be made the amendments, contained in the Decree of the Council of the Federation approved today.

The Decree has secured the bans of private ownership of the nature objects of life support, as well as it states that the regional authorities set the dimention limits of a pond or a watered quarry that can be privatized. The Working Group of the Council of the Federation is entrusted to continue the work on considering the proposals of committees and commissions of the Council of the Federation on preparing the alterations to the Water Code.
The Water Code was presented to the senators by the Chairman of the Committee of the Council of the Federation on Natural Resources and Environment Protection Victor Orlov. He remarked that the Water Code is the first experience of liberalization of the landuse. At the same time the law takes into account the fact that the water is a source of life support of a man, the product essential for living. On such objects commodity-money relations cannot be spread, as the reporter said. There is a danger of commercialization of not only water delivery, but water scoop as well, V. Orlov considers.
The main innovations of the law are fixing the priority of the federal ownership on all the natural and big artificial water objects, at the same time the list of water objects that can be in private ownership is extended and the conditions of access to use of water objects are changed. In the main types of wateruse there are applied civil-law (contractual) relations. As V. Orlov informed, the main remarks were caused by the parts of the law fixing the mechanisms of implementation of the right of private ownership on water objects and civil-law relations for water scoop for drinking and household water supply.
Special attention was paid to the demands to protection of water and water objects from pollution and desiccation. The weak point of the Water Code, in the opinion of the profile Committee of the Council of the Federation, is scetchiness and vagueness of the economical mechanism to ensure the work of the water economy. In the law there are no guarantees on appropriation of subventions from the federal budget to regional budgets in the amounts sufficient for implementation of the given authorities, and of the funds independent of the volumes received from the paid water use. But despite the great preliminary work, the senator still have some serious claims to the Water Code, as V. Orlov said. He remarked two considerable gaps: absence of mechanisms and criteria to assign private ownership of water objects, absence of order and reasons to transfer the rights of wateruse on contractual relationships.
Absence of these regulations, in V. Orlovs opinion, can become the basis for corruption and lead to the rise of costs of water-supply service for people. On the grounds of this, the Committee of the Council of the Federation on Natural Resources and Environment Protection has made the conclusion that some of the regulations of the Water Code, due to their innovative content and insufficient consideration of amendments and proposals of the Council of the Federation, executive and legislative authority bodies of the regions, need more concrete definitions, changes and additions. This is what, as the senators think, will let to avoid possible negative consequences after the Water Code comes into force. Nine committees and commossions of the Council of the Federation, who expressed some serious remarks, have prepared their conclusions. Nikolay Ryzhkov, Valery Trushnikov, Valery Kadohov suggested to decline the Water Code with establishing conciliatory commission.
The chairman of the Council of the Federation Sergey Mironov supported the Water Code with the condition to have guarantees of principal amendments to be made in short time about the ban to transfer in private ownership and use by third persons of the water objects with drinking water, the objects of the water scoop. We succeeded to find the consensus with the Government. As we agreed, at the same time when the Water Code comes into force on 1 January 2007, our amendments will come into force, S. Mironov said.