Water distribution improvement "World Bank style" in K-East Ward Mumbai - A working paper by CASUMM

Privatisation of water supply scheme in K-east Mumbai

In this document by CASUMM, the author raises important questions regarding the recent trends towards privatisation of water supply in Indian cities by discussing the case of the water supply scheme project in the K-east ward of Mumbai.

The privatisation of the water supply scheme, which has been implemented through grants by the World Bank (WB) raises serious questions regarding the intentions of the international organisations that fail to take into consideration the local context and the needs of the people and focus exclusively on profit making.

An evaluation of the mechanism of implementation of the scheme leaves a number of questions unanswered and indicates that the voices of the very ones, who need this water supply are not taken into consideration. For example,

  • Although the fund proposed by the World Bank has been addresssed as the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Fund (PPIAF), the actual implementation is in the form of a private scheme with little or no role for public sector involvement in the actual decision making process
  •  Experience has shown that these types of models of privatisation lead to a total transfer of control and management of operations to private companies,which are normally unfair leading to:
    • The bearing of risks related to the project by the government
    • The private companies are under no obligation to invest
    • All conditions necessary for improving the supply of water (quality and quantity), generating the capital for the required investment, etc. have to be met by the government
    • The private manager/operator simply charges an annual fee for its “management expertise”
    • There is no guarantee that all the employees of the Hydraulic Department will be employed by the private manager/operator
    • There is a total lack of transperancy in the operations of the private companies
    • The users have no role to play in the decision making process nor do they have access to all documents, information related to these projects.
    • There is no guarantee of 24X7 water supply in each and every household since the evaluation mechanisms of private companies are not sensitive to the needs of the people and do not consider water distribution mechanisms based on equity and social justice .
    • The performance indicators of the company are not based on needs of users like whether individuals receive 24X7 water supply, but on whether the water company provides 24X7 water in each zone.

The document concludes by arguing for the need to question the intentions, relevance and the ethics of such profit making projects/ventures that ignore the basic right of all human beings to have access to adequate and safe water


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