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Need for a water regulatory authority

Latha K. Rao Chairperson BWSSB. source: Zenrainman's channel
murali772's picture

another holy cow

As an earlier posting (
had noted, BMSSB is unable to account for over 38% of the water being pumped from its diffrent sources, 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, leading to our lakes getting totally polluted, and the mosquito menace and diseases resulting therefrom 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 Socialists, so much so the government immediately tucks its tail between its legs and makes a hasty retreat. Doesn't look like there's salvation on this front in the forseeable future.

Admittedly, the skewed structurings of many of the PPP arrangements have also led to this impasse. 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, a regulatory authority hopefully can atleast begin to bring these issues to focus to eventually find some viable solutions. Another silent prayer of mine towards that.

For more, click on http://privatised-water-s...

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
zenrainman's picture

The issue really

Muralidhar Rao has been consistent in his stand over the ages, bring in the privtae sector et voila everything will be alright.  The situation however is more complex and yes does include M. Rao's solution too :)  
Give the devil it's due - BWSSB and Bangalore has a phenomenal history of managing the city's water quite well. Let me list somethings positive that they have done 
- circa 1894 got water from the Hessarghatta lake and pumped it to the city using STEAM engines ( phenomenal and the first in the country in so far as I know)
- switched to electric pumps in 1904 to becme the first city in India to do that
- brought water from the Cauvery 95 km and 300 mt below the city in millions of litres
- was the first specialised instituion to be set up for water and sanitation circa 1964  in India
- metered all legal connections and really,really knows the losses in the system
-has the costliest production cost of water in all cities of Asia of this scale
- has set up a pro-poor policy which makes it the first city in India to do so
- charges Rs 50 /- for borewells as sanitary cess and therefore knows how many bore wells there are in the city in the homes/apartments where there is a BWSSB connection
- runs excellent tertiary treatment plants for sewage treatment nd was one of the first in india to do so

From circa 1894 to circ 2009 has done a remarkable job of facing up to a challenge with shortcomings but    pretty good a show nonetheless. 

Now we hit ecological limits with water and this for an ENGINEERING organisation is difficult to understand and manage . So what does it need?

The best of the people with 35 years service recently retired and so the organisation is in transition. It needs A HRD professional to identify and develop a human resource plan for the organisation. The TWAD board from T.N did a recent exercise on these lines and benefitted largely... but hey will we follow T.N?

The BWSSB needs to change its mindset from being a water supply provider to becoming a water supply manager and this means the government needs to expand their jurisdiction to INCLUDE surface waters and groundwaters and perhaps the basin of the source rivers to understand,plan and manage ALL waters in Bangalore.

It needs to develop a social policy and rework its po-poor policy to cater to the poor and provide access to ALL in the city . The existing pro-poor policy needs to be taken for broader consultation , refined and reworked and specific targets set to meet the requirements of the poor. The BWSSB should staff and create a social /community interphase team because water is no longer a physical issue but also a social issue.

The BWSSB needs to create a groundwater wing and man it with competent hydro-geologists to understand and manage the cities groundwater adequately. Groundwater is the cheapest water in Bangalore and in the absence of any instituion managing it will lead to the trgedy of the commons.

The BWSSB needs to hire hydrologists and start to understand the catchments of the tanks and rivers on which it depends like the Arkavathy and the Cauvery . It should then draw up a plan to manage these waters so that they are most optimally used for the city from functional to recreational and ecological purpose.

It should create an ombudsman to listen and advice it independantly on the grievances that come up against it.

The BWSSB should draw up a tariff revision plan to eliminate misdirected subsidies , give lifeline water to the poor free and draw enouh from those who can afford so that they are financially solvent and in a position to repair and invest in newer infrastructure. A tariff hike will be inevitable for the middle class and the rich and this will be good for water conservation too.

All this can be done with competent private sector participation in a policy framework which is coherent , multi dimensional and participatory. 

Can we therefore move the debate to this place in terms of instituional building, increasing capacities, bringing democratic control, open ness and transparency in operations and with a pro-poor tilt? In the famous words of  a famous man 'Yes we can". comment guidelines

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