The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is considering hiring private players to manage the operations and maintenance of the proposed water supply in 110 villages in the outermost periphery of the City.
Reason? The heavy revenue loss, of nearly 60 per cent, incurred by the BWSSB in supplying water from Cauvery 4th Stage Phase 2 to the areas carved out of the old City Municipal Councils.
According to officials, water supply to these areas was managed in their typical style with in-house engineers, which resulted in very poor revenue collection. The board managed to generate revenue accountable to only 40 percent of the total water supplied to these areas. Twenty-six of the 110 villages are in Byatarayanapura zone, 23 in Mahadevapura, 33 in Bommanahalli, 17 in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and 11 in Dasarahalli.
When the Cauvery 4th Stage Phase 2 was commissioned to these areas, the board had to cater to people who were desperately waiting for water supply.
With politics weighing on the board, it was forced to supply water free of cost to the residents. Besides, the board also faces a huge shortage of staff.
The 110 villages do no yet have any infrastructure required for water supply like pipelines or underground drains. The BWSSB wants to involve private players from the beginning. A draft proposal prepared by the BWSSB talks of plans to sign a 10-year contract with private agencies, allotting the first three years for construction and the next seven years for operations and maintenance.
Through the agencies, the board intends to appoint operators for water supply, set up operation and maintenance systems and conduct revenue collection in the five zones. The quantity of water supplied will be measured at entry points to reservoirs with an allowance of 16 per cent for unaccounted water.
The contractor will be responsible for raising the revenue for 85 per cent of the water supplied to the area. The revenue collected will be directly deposited to a BWSSB account, and based on the collection, the board will pay a certain percentage to the contractor as per the contract agreement.
But the BWSSB Employees’ Association has vowed to oppose any kind of privatisation taken up by the board. “The BWSSB has already outsourced several of its projects, including sewage treatment plants, water treatment plants and unaccounted for water (UFW). The contracts are for a period of three to five years and can be renewed. If the complaint is that the existing employees do not work, then it is because they have not been trained. As the board has received the government’s approval to hire 400 more employees, there will be no need for any private player,” its president Rudre Gowda said.
BWSSB Chairman Anjum Parwez, however, claimed that there was no such proposal to engage private players. “Water supply to the 110 villages is still at the level of preparation and submission of the detailed project report (DPR) to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which will fund the project. Our focus is to begin the project, and its maintenance will remain with the BWSSB even after the completion.”