Government may privatize water supply

You may soon get your Bisleri water through a pipeline.

After telephones and power supply, it looks to be the turn of water supply and sewerage services to be privatized.

Responding to a question in the Parliament, the Water Resources ministry has said that the draft new water policy recommends handing over of the water supply system to private companies. The sewerage (waste) system will be handed over to public-private partnership (PPP) companies, Vincent Pala, junior minister for water resources said.

Pala said that the role of the government will be changed to that of a regulator (umpire) from that of a provider (player.)

“The revised draft National Water Policy (2012) inter-alia recommends that the “Service Provider” role of the State has to be gradually shifted to that of a regulator of services and facilitator for strengthening the institutions responsible for planning, implementation and management of water resources,” he said.

The government has successfully implemented the privatization policy as far as power supply is concerned.

In cities like Delhi and Mumbai, power supply has been handed over to companies such as the Reliance group and the Tata group.

The private companies have, since taking over, cut down transmission losses (initially as high as 40%) by preventing theft, replacing uncovered cables with insulated cables and other infrastructure changes.

Similarly, most consumers in India now prefer private telecom companies to the Government-owned BSNL and MTNL, as the latter are seen as less sensitive to customer problems and requirements.

The water and sewerage systems in most cities of India are functioning below requirements. In Delhi for example, transmission losses in water supply are estimated at 40%.

Sewerage systems don’t work in many parts of the city either.

Some cities have already implemented the PPP model for sewerage collection. However, water supply continues to be managed by government officials.