DJB takes first step towards privatisation

The Delhi Jal Board is “cautiously” moving towards partial privatisation of water services in residential colonies.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published:May 21, 2012 1:28 am

The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is “cautiously” moving towards partial privatisation of water services in residential colonies. It will soon bring out a booklet to sensitise all stakeholders on the functioning of the public-private partnership model,which will be implemented in four localities on a pilot basis. Through the booklet,the DJB hopes to answer all apprehensions of both residents and employees about a privatised mode of water distribution. It also intends to make a case for 24×7 water supply in the proposed target areas.

The booklet titled ‘Water Distribution Reforms in Delhi: Myth vs Reality’ answers issues that the water utility proposes to address by means of entering into the PPP mode. The booklet states the DJB hopes to ensure “improvement in equity,reliability and security of water supply”.

The DJB said it plans to address the issues of distribution inequities,unreliable and limited water supply,poor water pressure and quality,false and inflated meter readings,unresolved consumer complaints,and lack of customer orientation among DJB employees.

“The booklet would contain answers to all frequently asked questions. It would explain about PPP and our aim is to try and keep all stakeholders in the project on the same plane. Nobody should think there are things under cover since there will be private party involvement now,” a DJB spokesperson said.

In November last year,the Empowered Committee (EC),set up by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to look into reforms in management and distribution of water,endorsed the water utility’s proposal to enter into PPP in three Delhi localities — Malviya Nagar,Vasant Vihar and Nangloi underground reservoirs and water treatment plants — on a pilot basis. The Mehrauli township project was added to the proposal and the approval came after consultation with the Planning Commission,which had identified water sector reforms as a priority for the city.

DJB officials said tenders for evaluation and hiring of a private company for the Nangloi and Vasant Vihar projects would be opened in June,while tenders for Malviya Nagar would be opened in July.

The EC had asked the DJB to ensure smooth transition while going from a public distribution to a private distribution system,and ensure thorough sensitisation of all stakeholders,including the private operator and DJB employees. “The booklet on PPP will be distributed to all residents as well,” the official said. For the DJB,the project involves improving the distribution system in partnership with the private operators. The officials insist this would be done “without raising water tariff or retrenchment of staff”.

According to the plan,the DJB will continue to be the main water suppliers to the private operators. They will distribute it the localities and ensure 24×7 supply,with a residual pressure that is strong enough to ensure supply up to two floors without booster pumps.

“The focus would be on reducing water losses — Non-Revenue Water (NRW) — which is estimated to be 65 per cent of the water supply in Delhi. Reduced NRW would enable DJB to increase supply duration,” the DJB officials said.

“Around 35 per cent of water loss in Delhi is physical loss and curbing this would be akin to water supply augmentation,” the booklet stated.

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