ISLAMABAD - The much-awaited National Drinking Water Policy was finally approved on Monday, which focuses on removing the existing disparities in coverage of safe drinking water and reducing sufferings from waterborne diseases. The Federal Cabinet in its meeting held on Monday approved the National Drinking Water Policy that was formulated by the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with UNICEF to protect the public health and offset the huge environment and natural resource damage cost to Pakistan economy. The policy aims to improve the quality of life of the people of Pakistan by reducing incidence of death and illness as a result of waterborne diseases through ensuring provision of adequate quantity of safe drinking water to the entire population at an affordable cost and in an equitable, efficient and sustainable manner. Towards this end, the policy provides specific guidelines for increasing access to safe drinking water, protection and conservation of surface and groundwater resources, water treatment and safety, appropriate technologies and standardization, community participation, public awareness, capacity development, public private partnership, research and development, emergency preparedness and response and coordinated planning and implementation. The policy places special emphasis on establishment of new drinking water systems, rehabilitation and upgrade of the existing water supply systems, sustainability of water supply infrastructure, water conservation, water quality improvement, water treatment and drinking water sector management information system. The policy suggests various legislatives measures to ensure its effective implementation, including enforcement of the National Drinking Water Standards. It stipulates that the respective tiers of the government will devise strategies and action plans in pursuit of the policy, which ensures access to safe and sustainable drinking water supply to the entire population of Pakistan by 2025.