'Plugging leakages will increase water supply'

'Plugging leakages will increase water supply'

 At least 40-70 per cent additional water can be provided for urban Indian homes at no extra cost by merely plugging physical and financial leakages in the delivery of Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) services, a new World Bank report has pointed out.

The WB Report titled "Improving Urban Water Supply & Sanitation Services—Lessons from Business Plans for Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana—seeks to address the key issues facing the water sector in India’s states and cities.
 
It highlights the different water supply scenarios prevailing in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana. While all three states present a similar picture in terms of access to piped water, they differ considerably when it comes to the quality of service.

For instance, while towns in Haryana have the highest average quantity of water available at 95-105 litres per capita daily (LPCD), supply is irregular and varies widely between seasons. Towns in Maharashtra on the other hand have less water available at 78 Lpcd but benefit from a more regular supply. Rajasthan, the desert state, has the least availability of water and the least reliable supply, with only 162 out of the state’s 222 towns receiving water every day.

The cost recovery scenario presents an even more diverse picture. While the average recovery rate in Maharashtra is 68 per cent, it’s 35 per cent in Rajasthan and a mere 11 per cent in Haryana.  

With higher recovery rates Maharashtra is clearly at an advantage as it has already begun implementing many of the reforms,  like water and energy audits in its urban local bodies (ULB), GIS mapping, bulk metering and ring fencing of WSS operations to mention a few – needed to reduce inefficiencies in the delivery of WSS services.

Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, the report highlights many good examples from Australia, Algeria, and Brazil where water utilities started from a similar scenario but inefficiencies had been reduced over a span of 5-10 years.
India, while maintaining the targeted subsidies for the poor, can also provide more and better quality water to its citizens, the Report avers.

Interacting with select media persons here, Maharashtra’s Principal Secretary (Water Supply and Sanitation Department) said “This approach, we hope, will help us increase efficiency and deliver better services to our people across the state.”
“The task of setting up autonomous, accountable and customer-oriented service providers, which is necessary as indicated by the international experience, may be daunting, but certainly achievable,” he said.

“The need of an average water user is at the heart of these recommendations,” said World Bank Senior Economist Smita Misra adding: “A well serving utility needs to provide continuous good quality water at affordable rates.” 

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