Activists and water experts have trashed Delhi Jal Board's (DJB) public private partnership (PPP) model for the 24X7 water supply pilot projects in three areas.
The Planning Commission last week allocated Rs 90,000 crore for the national Capital, pushing the Delhi government for privatisation in water even as DJB refuses to call it privatisation.
"Why do we need a PPP model at all? One has to see what the problem is (with DJB) and find out ways to address it. It is simply an issue of governance," said Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network of Dams, River and People.
"Moreover, Planning Commission has no legal power to push for the PPP model. But it is infiltrated by World Bank people and has the backing from the PMO," he alleged.
DJB plans to add domestic connections and reduce distribution losses by replacing pipelines along with ensuring 24X7 water supply at a pressure to reach the second floor. Work on pilot projects at Malviya Nagar, Mehrauli and Vasant Vihar is underway while it is going to start soon at Nangloi.
DJB is copying PPP models from Nagpur and Hubli-Dharwad, both of which have not been completed for whole cities.
Deepak Dholakia, general secretary of Water Privatisation-Commercialisation Resistance Committee warned: "The private operator will go only for profit. Some areas will continue to be kept out of service. In fact, water would go out of reach of poor people."
Nitya Jacob, Director (Water), Centre for Science and Environment, added that tariff slabs are biased towards high-end users. "The operator spends more in low-consumption area but the revenue is low. So, there is better supply to high-end users. There is a tendency to shortchange the areas that pay less. It is a market rule."
Grassroots activists from the recently-launched Right to Water campaign used RTIs to dig out information about the PPP project. "The PPPs do not address the availability, quantity and quality issues and instead focuses only on improving water supply to 24X7. Removal of public stand posts also threatens right of water for the poor and the homeless," said Kiran Shaheen of the Campaign.
Debashree Mukherjee, DJB CEO said DJB has planned a minimum supply of 135 litres per capita per day. "Plus there would be no tariff hike. We will give two months' dummy bills and give time to consumers to plug leaks at their ends."