Evaluating water perspectives in 4 Indian states (PART 4)

( This is a report evaluating the water and related concerns in 4 states of India – Bihar, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan. Every week a part of the report will be published.)

Author : Konica Sehgal

  1. Role of Public Private Partnership and how can it help

A partnership between public and private sectors helps the public sector to expand its intellectual as well as financial resources. The value added by PPP consists of an improvement in the quality of development policy taping the powers of innovation of the private player and access of additional financial resources. Further criteria of PPPs are sharing of risks and division of tasks according to the model we deploy in an industry. This partnership further helps investment and development in areas where the public sector would otherwise not perform well due to lack of funds and state of the art technology. On the other hand, for the private sector, a PPP helps in diversifying risks and ensure a fixed return when tapping into a less profitable venture.

We do not find many PPPs in the rural water sector in India. However, the frenzy about PPP has caught up and the recognition that it could be the preferable solution has been criticized as well as supported. Narrowing our analysis to that of four states; Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan and Maharashtra; we find that Maharashtra has been in the leading front in the PPP ventures in the sector. As per the Govt. data, Maharashtra has implemented eight PPP projects in the sector all of them being deployed in the sub sector of water supply pipeline. Odisha witnesses one PPP project working to provide water pipelines while Bihar and Rajasthan reports no PPP project.

Case Study of Nagpur municipal corporation, Maharashtra

 One of the first encounters for the state of Maharashtra and for the country as a whole is the Nagpur Model. Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) had some familiarity with PPPs through sanctioning of service contracts in early 2000s in the water sector. However, a full-scale PPP project was initiated only in 2007 in Dharampeth aiming coverage of 15000 connections. This project considerably decreased Non-revenue water, which was previously at a high 62%and reduced losses. 24*7 water supplies were achieved in half of the targeted households. After this relatively small-scale PPP effort was deemed successful, a citywide implementation of PPP was initiated. The responsibility of the private player was billing and collection of revenue along with rehabilitation of old connections. The contract was signed on 11 November 2011 between NMC and Orange City Water Private Limited. The transition period of 5 years is over in which rehabilitation and Improvement of the existing distribution system had to take place. The company now operates the connections and collects bills from the consumers. This model has been applauded for excellent implementation of PPP in water sector. Losses have decreased considerably and coverage has improved further. Recent reports from the consumer end, however, tell a story of misery. Water supply is intermittent defying its very objective of 24*7 water supply. Water bills are inflated and consumer queries are not answered timely.                 



Many Not-for-profit organisations and International bodies, however, have done impressive work and are further joining hands with private players. On 7th July 2017, Hinduja Global Solutions tied up with Jaldhaara Foundation to set up three Water Health centres (WHC) in the city of Bengaluru. Water Health India, which is a subsidiary of Water Health International; has set up 500 WHC across states in India with an aim to provide water to underserved people. Naandi foundation is one of the major faces of the Not-For-Profit organisations working successfully for the cause of potable clean drinking water supply to rural areas. It provides clean drinking water to rural communities at a cost of 10-20 paise per litre. This programme has now established itself as’ Naandi Foundation Water Services’ aiming to cover wider regions through pooled investments.[1]Established as a social organisation it works on the lines of a tripartite model involving the community, donor and the entity itself. Community provides the basic and reliable information about the conditions and resources; donor covers the costs while the entity works as a manager. Various public sector companies like Rural Electrification Company, Bharat Dynamics Limited have contributed with funds to the service acting as external donors. Coverage of a large amount of fixed costs and variable costs by external funds helps in keeping costs for community at the margin.

World Bank in its report, `The State of PPPs’, apprises us that there has been a cancellation of 28% of PPP projects in water sector in EMDE countries over the period of 1991-2015, while cancellation rate at average levels remains low at 3.7%. India has seen a decline in private investment in PPP projects since 2013. A strong incentive is imperative to bring private players into the water sector and innovative outlook, policies and ideas to make this sector a profitable one.


  1. Conclusion

Rural water supply infrastructure in India is in a staggering condition. Availability of clean potable water is the minimum precondition for an improved standard of living in the country. The govt. recognizes the need of the hour and is earmarking huge funds for the same. State of the art technologies have evolved to cater to the water needs. Groundwater is treated as a common good in India leading to extreme exploitation. The bill put up by the Union Ministry of Water Resources for conservation, protection and regulation of ground water is in the right step. Installation of private hand pumps have to be discouraged which is a major phenomenon in Bihar. These hand pumps are not monitored and consumption of contaminated water goes unobserved since community lacks the knowledge to detect the presence of contaminants in the water.  Prevention is always better than cure. There is a need to upscale the efforts and one of them is being seen in the form of PPP. We have to introduce the private player as a protagonist of the story in contrast to earlier where the private player worked from the back of the stage. Innovative models of partnership should be introduced while promoting not for profit work in the field.[i]

[1] Source: http://www.naandi.org/naandi-community-water-services-ltd/