A Plea for Proper Water Management in India's Cities

Indian cities boast of huge GDP contributions, but cannot fulfill the basic needs of their citizens, such as providing safe drinking water. Central government funding has enabled some improvements in the urban water sector, but much more is needed.

In his article 'Managing our cities' waters', Mr. M Ramachandran, a former secretary with the Ministry of Urban Development in India, is both critical and hopeful about the country's urban water sector.

Citizens of India are deprived of access to drinking water, while at the same time about 50 percent of water put into distribution is lost and not billed for. This loss due to leakages, theft, defective meters or unbilled supply, exhibits the poor management of water utilities in Indian cities. It also gives a picture of ineffective local and state governments lacking in accountability and transparency.

Estimates show that about '45 million cubic metres of water are lost daily' - enough to supply 200 million people. Investments should be made in the area of repair and infrastructure upgrades to prevent leakage. One gets hopeful after seeing examples of cities like Nagpur and Surat that have piloted 24X7 water supply projects and institutionalized water reforms, respectively. Nagpur city is saving millions of rupees just by reducing transmission losses and enhancing pumping efficiency.

With planning for the mega-urban scheme of India, the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission), focusing on its next phase, there is much hope for the Indian urban water sector to focus on efficient water management. The focus must be to improve the existing infrastructure before proposing investment in new projects. Who knows, very soon, the distant dream of having a reliable 24X7 water supply might become a reality for the citizens in India.

Thanks to Kanak Tiwari

Full Story: M Ramachandran: Managing our cities' water

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