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Tata arm bags Mysore water supply project

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This piece of news must be noted, its significant. Mysore city corporation (MCC) is inviting a Tata arm to form the largest water supply PPP project in the country. Read the press release directly on Tata group's website. Here are some key points worth your time:

  • "The project will enable equitable distribution of Cauvery water treated at Hongalli and Melapur treatment plants to the consumers through a network of about 1,200km from 28 small and large reservoirs, gradually increasing the hours of supply to 24 hours a day with service level guarantees ..."
  • "The project will be completed in three phases spread over six years. The first phase of twelve months will involve complete hydraulic remodeling of the present system and preparation of capital investment plan. In the second phase of three years, Jusco will rehabilitate the distribution network to reduce water losses and gradually increase various service standards. The third and final phase of two years will involve providing 24x7 water supply in the entire city ensuring sustainability of achieved service standards."

Its not a huge PPP as such, size of the project is mere Rs 152 crores. But there is talk of service level guarantees (performance based PPP), and a dream of 24 x 7 water supply for Mysoreans. Prajagale must take note.

Jargon speak on this post:

  • MCC = Mysore City Corporation
  • KUWSDB - Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board
  • PPP = Public Private Partnership

PS: This was a followup post - water supply is not getting privatized.


Naveen's picture

A Positive Development

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SB - great !

The article appears to suggest that this is more of a facilitation & consultancy project, rather than outright privatization of water supply /distribution.

During 1st phase, investment plans are to be drawn up - probably for the next two phases (rehabilitation of the distribution network to reduce water losses, gradual increase in service standards, provide 24x7 supply to the entire city, etc.).

Nevertheless, involvement of professional private firms in management of civic utilities is a positive move. Hope the same happens with Power, as also sewerage & roads, transport services, etc..
murali772's picture

way to go

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Like I have been repeatedly saying the BWSSB does not have the capacity, and is also not in a position to gear up the requisite capacity, to discharge the functions thrust upon it. As such, this is another vital infrastructure area where participation by professional private players is imperative.

Admittedly, the skewed structurings of many of the PPP arrangements of the past have also led to some of the opposition to them. But, that doesn't mean we throw the baby out with the bath water, and continue to suffer the status quo, even as water bottlers and tanker contractors make a killing, largely at the cost of the 'not-so well off' sections of the society.

Well, hopefully, this is the answer.

Further, it is a wise move on the part of the government to pursue this new initiative in Mysore, away from the glare of the vested interest groups concentrated in Bangalore. That said, anything can get hijacked by another set of vested interest groups, if the real stake-holders, the citizens, are not vigilant. Going by their track record, however, one hopes JUSCO will provide the right kind of model for other cities, including Bangalore to follow, in future.

It was plainly because of the stranglehold of the vested interest groups, concentrated in Bangalore, that the S M Krishna government limited the liberalisation of issue of permits for operation of 'stage-carriage services (the jargon in official parlance for regular bus operations)' to cities other than Bangalore. It has certainly helped the citizens of Hubli-Dharwar atleast, with the establishment of the 'Bendre Nagara Saarige' there, though, with many elements of the 'license-permit raaj' remaining in place, these oprations still have a long way to go.

Because of the dismal public bus transport (dis)services provided by the government monopoly BMTC, Bangalore has been forced to go in for the METRO, resulting in the entire character of the city getting altered. It will be a total tragedy if, likewise, the visions of the grand palaces and statues in Mysore get obliterated by the METRO.

The only way to prevent that is to lobby for excellent bus services, involving professional private sector operators, right now, perhaps along the lines detailed at

Hopefully, the PRAJA of Mysore will wake up to this reality fast enough unlike their brethren in Bangalore.

Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

scuttling a good project

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This comes after the MCC took the members to Jamshedpur to familiarise them about JUSCO's management of water services at the steel city in Jharkhand.

It was deputy commissioner P Manivannan who identified the Tata company to execute the project.

After the opposition to the tripartite agreement between the MCC, Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWS&DB) and the JUSCO, some corporators were taken there. "We were shown the facility and also introduced to the JUSCO's handling and management of various facilities,'' he stated. According to him, water management at Jamshedpur is not satisfactory.

In planned areas, water is supplied 24x7 and the bill is a minimum of Rs 200 a month. At slums, borewell water is supplied through public taps. In case water connection is required by the slum dwellers, they need to pay Rs 10,000. There is no government control over handling of the facilities at Jamshedpur including water and electricity, he stated.

Terming it as privatization of the public utilities, Bhyrappa said the JUSCO does not have social concern since it has not extended the UGD connection of slums and does not supply water to them. "Do we need such an utility to operate our system?" he asked.

This comes after protests at the MCC recently when prominent citizens voiced their opposition to the deal according to which the JUSCO will take over the management and handle it for six years. The Tata company is scheduled to get the management by April-end which has been opposed.

For the full story, click on:

This is primarily Congress Corporator, Bhyrappa's view, and only to be expected from the typical opposition politician that he obviously is. The project has been initiated by none less than the redoubtable Manivannan, who would definitely have done enough home-work to ensure equity. Here's clearly another example of how people with vested interests perpetuate the status-quo.

Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

interesting exchanges

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Excerpts of exchange on the subject in CAF googlegroup:

VB responded thus to my latest comment:
A congress corporator was elected as Mayor of Mysore yesterday and a JD(S) one is the Deputy Mayor. All the Machinations of BJP for horse trading and operation Kamala was a failure. It would be helpful to keep a close watch on the actual situation since many local residents are also keenly watching

Just like the KUWASIP experiments in Hubli - Dharwad were on the condition of World Bank, those who know can inform that MoUD played the major role in the 24 X 7 project coming to Mysore making the taxpayers to pay Rs 10 crs more for project.

We now know more about the actual situation in Jamshedpur from the comments of Bhyrappa.

I responded with:
Rs 10 crores for 5 lakh households is just Rs 200 per household. And, for that, if you can 24X7 water-supply, I should think any citizen will be more than happy to make the payment.

The Bhyrappa's of this world, who are only keen on scuttling the project in order to further vested interests, will naturally project it in ways that suit them. Anyone wanting to support Bhyrappa's cause can perhaps add a new twist with a conspiracy theory involving Manivannan and the repository of all that's evil - the World Bank

VB came back with:
The population of Mysore is in the region of 8-9 lakhs and not likely to be 20 lakhs (avg 4 /hh) as you project.

Anyway calculations aside I already mentioned how the MoUD played a  role in this. And this some may argue is the catch. The brains in KUWS&DB and Vani Vilas Water Works,Mysore and Manivannan as Commissioner also did not think up 24 X7.

Why shd the local people accept more top down (centralised) decision making in JNNURM to create --- opposition,resistance and dividing the citizens, in any city anywhere. By the way Mysore and Blr JNNURM CDP was written during a period when niether the BBMP nor Mysore council were in place,

TOP DOWN TALK its about all those who leave others to give directions..... NOT POPULAR MASS DEMOCRACY. not the people like the locals in who are better educated literate and smart. COERCION has no role here...

The WB did its CONDITIONAL REFORMS LOAN job in Hubli- Dhwarrd, Gulbarga and Belagum and are now jockeying to take over the whole city water supply. So it did not need to come in here if the specific bureaucrat in the MoUD Dlehi Govt believes in the leading practice of 24 X 7

I responded with:
I hope the suggestion is not that if the charge (one-time) was Rs 400/-, or even Rs 500/-, it would be too high for 24x7 water-supply.

I expect the tariff would provide for exponential increases if the consumption exceeds certain norms. So, 24x7 need not automatically mean wastage, particularly when JUSCO is ging to be monitoring it.

So, the Basavangudi National College fly-over should be accepted as a boon to the city since it was conceived by a Corporator; but, a project which is going to improve the water-supply to Mysore city becomes something attempted to be "coerced" onto the citizens, just because it was conceived by the (non-elected) Commissioner! Whatever, I don't see what the problem is. I suppose the project can't go through without the elected council endorsing it. And, the Commissioner's attempts seem to be to educate the Councillors on the project's merits. He may even succeed with the councillors, but the status-quoists with the vested interests are the real threat.  

A loan that is unconditional can't be classified as a loan. The appropriate word for it would perhaps be 'gift'. And, I don't know of any banks anywhere making over gifts. Even Islamic banking imposes conditions.

VB came back with:
Thanks for listening and debating but the demands in Mysore are taking things further than either of us can keep a track of. Viva la public!

Tadhaastu! Muralidhar Rao
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

further exchanges

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Exchanges in HU yahoo-group following this opening post by VB:
Citizens in Mysore are opposing JNNURM and its methods of implementation and especially the high handed approach to privatisation of water supply through an inexperienced tata co Jusco. Read: http://www.starofmy main.asp? type=news&item=19983

For how long can the aware and active citizens of Mysore be misled by the reforms? This is really good news and I welcome this....

I responded with:
And, for how long will status-quoists go on blocking well-intentioned reforms? Nowhere does the article talk about technical issue; it's all just plain rhetoric.

The BWSSB is unable to account for over 38% of the water being pumped from its different sources (http://praja. in/blog/silk. .....), even as it is struggling to connect up the extended city areas.

While that's the scene on the one hand, on the other, water pipes laid ages ago (in the older areas) have corroded to the extent that raw sewage, from lines laid alongside, is seeping into them leading to spread of water-borne diseases in epidemic proportions.

Simultaneously, the BWSSB is unable to utilise even its 'much lower than required' sewage treatment capacity because of its inability to pay BESCOM bills on time, resulting in the mosquito menace and diseases thereof also reaching epidemic proportions.

All in all, very clearly the BWSSB does not have the capacity, and is also not in a position to gear up the requisite capacity, to discharge the functions thrust upon it.

As such, this is another vital infrastructure area where participation by professional private players is imperative. But, even the mention of that sets of hysteric rhetoric from psuedo-Socialists, so much so the government immediately tucks its tail between its legs and makes a hasty retreat.

Finally, the redoubtable Manivannan comes up with a viable solution involving a reputed Indian company, and the Socialists are desperate to scuttle this also for fear of its succeeding and becoming a model.

Our neighbour has been accused of trying to destabilise the Indian economy. If you ask me, there are stronger forces at work within.

To further the debate, click on:
http://praja. in/bangalore/ blog/murali772/ 2008/08/13/ water-suppy- ppp
http://mysore. blog/silkboard/ 2008/12/04/ tata-arm- bags-mysore- water-supply- project#comment- 9916

KRC added:
I am then allowed to question the reputation of Tata, which has, for the past few years, thrown into the winds all codes of ethical conduct and stooped to lows that no one should be allowed to stoop to. I can validate this statement, but that would be a tedious task.

I am not against privatization per se, but my understanding is that we lack the regulatory mechanisms that can make privatization work. Till then, we cannot privatize without making sure that water is not denied to those who cannot pay massive amounts for water.

SS came in with:
Valid points. But merely assuming "privatization" cannot work as a whole is probably not the best route. The CESC, Tata Power have shown that solutions can be provided by private venture too - and "profit" does not have to be read with all its often cited negative connotations.

Water : its proven that with current distribution mechanisms, the poorest pay most for water in the current "publicly controlled" systems. Its more to do with centralized vs distribute/communit y managed resources rather than pvt/state. Case in point : Zero B has managed to lower the cost of safe drinking water available at SBC to 3/- The Railways has been doing it free, but not providing what I'd associate those adjectives with.

A little innovation, a little competition and we'll have solutions. Does not matter whether they're public/pvt/ngo derived. The govt, and groups like this one, could instead be focused on defining the framework within which such efforts exist - and ensure sustainability, avoiding monopolistic situations and equal opportunity access to shared resources.

"isms" rarely work in practice.

Exchanges between VB and me:

The discussion was ONLY about a particular case of Mysore and the people who are aware who have a non-BJP elected LOCAL government at the MCC. It is definitely all technical.

Perhaps you also seem to suggest that the opposition is only because the project was initiatred by the rival party government!

There is fairly new infrastructure( water supply pipelines) paid for by a loan from the ADB -KUIDP which by the way MCC cannot pay back and is defaulting from time to time.

So, the MCC/ KUIDP is as incompetent as BBMP/ BWSSB combo - all the more reason they should be asked to limit their role.

The project which I have mentioned (JUSCO- 24 X 7) was signed only when another project for bulk water supply (KABINI RIVER SCHEME) was also approved by the JNNRUM Delhi

That was for bulk supply, and this is possibly for distribution. So, where's the problem there?

None of the reports were made public before the project was signed
NO transparency was the norm...

Admittedly, this is something not satisfactory, but, if what you say is correct

After the reports were demanded and made public under peoples pressure they have been studied and examined (1500 pages) in detail by the Institution of Engineers in Mysore and
it is mentioned in the article

If the IE, Mysore has criticised some specific aspect, it will be worth checking into. But, you have not cited any of that. Apparently, you have not even studied the report yourselves before joining forces with some politicos who possibly have some vested interests in the form tanker-water supply, bore-well sinking contracts.

The PUBLIC wants JNNURM on their OWN terms

Some stray rabble-rousers with vested interests can't claim to represent the public.

from delhi the JNNURM authorities are exporting AGITATIONS to all corners of the country ......

Rather, there are some who use every opportunity to foment trouble.

BWSSB paid Thames water 50 crs (one of the big 4 private water sector) in 2002 to do leak detection and control in 5 central sub-divisions. bulk water meters, and new lines were
laid. Project ended in 2006.

Again points to BWSSB's incompetence, rather control by vested interests..

PRAJA will do a great job if they can find out the outcomes vis avis the objectives to reduce leakages there to 15 %  and base some of their comments on data of this project. pl. Make it public knowledge  and we can have a debate .........

You are the one who dug up the info, you please do it. Why should PRAJA do it?
And, PRAJA is an e-debate platform. Pranav and I are amongst its facilitators. As for the content, anybody can log in and add them, subject of course to normal rules of decency.

BWSSB which was one of thebest  Metro water suppliers has reached a situation due to cost cutting, not filling up vacancies and generally new public management that 75 -80% of
its tasks were OUTSOURCED. so the private sector is  running everything PRACTICAL LY it is a skeleton org with huge profits to the PRIVATE sector already Where is the accountability one of the better improving utilities has been run down

Outsourcing is resorted to even by private companies for activities that are not in their core areas of competence. It generally helps in improving efficiency and bringing down costs. If it has proved otherwise in BWSSB (which is your presumption), it again reflects on its poor managerial capabilities and overall competence. The remedy is more out-sourcing and not less.

even Blr had 24 X 7 water in the 70 s

perhaps, you are not aware that the population has multiplied, and the resources are limited, and thereby the need for efficiency

and pl enlighten us if PRIVATE sector MONOPOLY is better than PUBLIC sector accountability. ..
Firstly, public sector accountability is a myth, barring the rare exceptions.. And, like Sameer Shisodia has pointed out, distribution of power (another natural monopoly area) has been in the hands of private players since long, and they have uniformly fared far better than government players in the field. They will do as well in water supply also, provided it's facilitated and regulated properly. And, facilitation and regulation alone should be the government's role in future, rather than taking on the entire job on itself.

Incompetency and incapacity of government agencies in key infrastructural areas are the cause of all the problems in the country today. If we can have the managerial expertise of the leading industrial houses in these areas, all of them can be solved in no time. Unfortunately, not only is that not happening, but even those who were there and doing a good job were eased out by the government somewhere along. So much so, TVS, who were once running efficient bus services in cities like Madurai, have eventually landed up producing two-wheelers in millions, which are now cluttering up the same city roads. And, instead of producing world-class buses, and providing efficient city bus services, TATAs are going to be cluttering up the city roads with their NANO.

Industry will move towards where there are opportunities. If the government channelises these opportunities in the right direction through proper policy initiatives, overall public interest will also be served.

SS pitched in with:
If those are the *only* two options, sure, there's only one answer.

However, my concern was precisely that - in all these arguments we paint demons larger than the issue itself and often do not leave scope for any discussion about other, real, possible options. My only point was to not introduce such sweeping beliefs into arguments (I sensed that from one of the mails)

Beyond this - you seem to have studied the case under consideration and I have not, so sure, I'll go by what you say. I do not seek to enlighten you on this. But, the risk of bucketing things into this "ism" or that seems to suggest potential bias, and not a fair read of the issue. I am myself not a votary of privatization of every utility, etc, but not merely because its "private" or has a profit motive. Keeping that option open while discussing *how* to privatize without giving up public rights and benefits seems to me like a better win. The profit motive does bring in certain competencies and efficiencies that may otherwise not be available or pushed for.

Let me rephrase the question using another cynical bias many people have and put it back to you -"would you pick PUBLIC sector inefficiency, nepotism and corruption over PRIVATE sector efficiency, competence and resourcefulness?"

When put in such language, these questions only promote the certain view that one section believes irrespective. Such questions are not fair, and do not lead to an open-minded, healthy debate.

KRC came back with:
If the government, under the control of neoliberals, decides to be inefficient, then it will be inefficient. To use that as empirical proof of governmental inefficiency in general is stupid.

I refrain from commenting on individual cases, but I think you are looking at problems from an exclusively ideological standpoint. That won't work.

First and foremost we need transparency. If privatization is being carried out in a less than transparent way, that is not a minor glitch. That, to me, is a sign of state capture by neoconservative forces.

My response:
It's nobody's case that privatisation is the panacea for all the ills. There will continue to be problems. But, like the late Sri C Subramaniam once stated, atleast these will be new problems, and not the same old ones for which we have no solutions for over half a century.

And, I am in no way belittling the need for total transparency in the privatisation processes.

KRC came back with:
That is true of any solution one might propose. Hopping from one new problem to another makes little sense, excepting for the novelty factor. You might be adventurous enough to wish for that, but if I have a problem, I'd like to know it well.

My response:
Please make every effort to know it well, and if there are valid issues, please thrash them out. But, for heaven's sake, stop opposing for opposing's sake! Further, if no solution has been found for a problem for decades together, if somebody offers a solution, I'll even be prepared to go for it blind-folded.

Muralidhar Rao

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