Delhi water privatization: FAQ on background and recent developments

Earlier efforts at introducing privatization in Delhi can be traced to 2002, when the DJB commissioned the Delhi Water Supply and Sewerage Project Preparation Study with the assistance of the World Bank.

The study was carried out by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC). PWC recommended further studies, which were carried out by other consultants. Reports were submitted and the project that would have led to water service privatization in Delhi was going to be approved in 2005.

However, from the second half of 2005 a strong campaign managed to force the government to put the privatization on hold as well as the World Bank project that was going to provide the funding for this. The World Bank project was eventually entirely dropped.

Section I of the FAQ deals with the elements of the privatization scheme of 2005 as set out in a pamphlet by the Right to Water Campaign. The questions covered include: 

  • Why was Delhi Jal Board water rates increased by 3 to 5 times in April 2005?
  • Will DJB be wound up after this?
  • Why can’t DJB officers run distribution zones?
  • Who will pay for running DJB zones?
  • How much will DJB pay to the companies?
  • Can the companies demand any amount? Is there any upper limit?
  • How much could the companies demand?
  • Where will all this money come from?
  • How much would the tariffs rise?
  • But won’t increase in tariffs improve services? Government says there would be 24-hour water supply after this.
  • Is it correct that the companies could divert water from residential users to commercial users?
  • But Government claims that 24-hour water supply will be achieved by reducing leakages?
  • Would grievance redressal improve?
  • If I am aggrieved with the company, where will I go?
  • How would poor people get water?
  • If this project is so bad, why is the Delhi Government implementing it?
  • What is World Bank’s role?
  • What is the rate of interest at which World Bank is giving this loan?
  • Then why is Delhi Government taking such an insignificant amount of loan at such high rate of interest and at such stiff conditions?
  • When will the project start?
  • Which companies are coming to Delhi?
  • What are the demands of Right to Water campaign?
  • But isn’t DJB in a mess? How does one improve it?

The issue of privatization has once again emerged in the organization of water supply system. Most of the issues have been reported in media and some significant initiatives have been mooted by the Delhi Government in this regard. Based on the recent news clippings, proposed moves towards privatisation is covered in Section II on developments in 2010-2011 –

  • What activities are being conducted under the reforms initiated by Delhi Government with respect to water distribution regime in New Delhi?
  • What reasons have been stated by Delhi Government in order to implement reforms?
  • Has any Government Committee been set up for such reforms?
  • What are the services which Delhi Government is considering to transfer with respect to water supply regime under these reforms?
  • Enumerate National and International agencies involved in these reforms and their role?
  • Has any political party opposed the reforms in New Delhi?
  • What is needed by the Government to do?

To get answers to these questions download the FAQ note below -

Post By: Amita Bhaduri