Source says panel looking into possible involvement of ministry employees

By Hana Namrouqa – Sep 03,2016

Stolen water from two wells in Ain Al Basha was used to irrigate local farms and was sold to the public in tankers (Photo courtesy of Water Ministry)

AMMAN — Authorities have dismantled pipes installed to steal water from two wells that supply Ain Al Basha in Balqa , an official said on Saturday.

The pipelines were used to divert 270 cubic metres of water per day from the wells, according to a Water Ministry official who asked not to be named.

The stolen water was used to irrigate local farms and was sold to the public in tankers, the official told The Jordan Times.

“Authorities are now tracking down the offenders…, the first offender will be fined JD26,240 and the second will be fined JD13,600,” he added.

In addition, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation has formed a committee to investigate whether any of its employees tasked with guarding and inspecting the two sites were involved in the violations.

The official underlined that the ministry will take “severe measures” against those responsible for guarding the wells if they were found to be involved in the water theft.

“Ain Al Basha residents have been complaining about water shortage and a change in the amount of water they receive. The violations, which we uncovered based on reports, turned out to be the main reason behind water disruption in the area,” the official said.

Water theft is recognised as an economic crime under articles 3 and 4 of the Economic Crimes Law. Currently, courts are looking into more than 1,000 cases of violations involving water resources and networks, according to the ministry.

The amended Water Authority of Jordan Law stipulates stiffer penalties against those who abuse any element of the water network.

Those who abuse water carriers and mains, wastewater, pumping, purification or desalination stations; or cause the pollution of water resources, pipes or stations used for drinking water; and dig or are involved in the digging of wells without obtaining a licence, will be jailed for up to five years and fined up to JD7,000.

In addition, violators of water and wastewater projects will be jailed for up to three years and fined up to JD5,000, according to the new amendments.

All penalties stipulated under the new law are doubled in the case of repeat offences.

Under the ongoing campaign against water violations, which was launched in 2013, authorities have ended around 23,000 violations on water mains and resources and also sealed 758 illegal wells in cooperation with security forces.

Water theft in Jordan is blamed for 70 per cent of water loss, according to the ministry, which indicated that around 110 million cubic metres of water have been saved since authorities launched the campaign.