Do we need privatisation of water?
Do we need privatisation of water?Published: Thursday, Mar 21, 2013, 6:36 IST
By Y Maheswara Reddy | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
Water is intrinsic to life and it is the responsibility of the government to take measures for supplying drinking water. So, is there a need for privatisation of water? There will, arguably, be no need at all provided the government department assigned and created exclusively for supplying water discharges its functions effectively. The need arises to think of alternatives when the government department becomes lackadaisical in its responsibility.
An effort was made to privatise water supply in Bangalore when Ashok Manoli was Managing Director of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) some six years ago. According to reliable sources, it was Manoli who opposed the proposal and insisted that the BWSSB was capable of supplying water to the residents of Bangalore.However, Bangaloreans are aware of BWSSB’s failure in supplying water properly.
It is not known what the intention of the authorities concerned is in their craving for privatisation of water supply. The question is: does any government have the right to privatise water?
Whatever advocates of water privatisation hve to say, water should be available free of cost (excluding the cost of supply). Those who oppose privatisation of water opine that nature provides water free of cost and it cannot be owned by anyone.
However, there is nothing either to revel about the efficiency of the BWSSB in quenching the thirst of Bangaloreans, especially those living on the outskirts, and also newly-added wards of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) or to control the water tanker mafia that is exploiting the natural resource without any hassle whatsoever. The water mafia is so powerful that it, in collusion with greedy and corrupt BWSSB engineers and staff, even control the water supply and pilferage of water.
Though the quality of water supplied by the BWSSB is a debatable issue, most Bangaloreans have to depend on private companies for drinking water. Again, the quality of drinking water supplied in cans is also questionable. But residents have no option than depending on the water supplied in cans by various private companies.
The BBMP standing committee on health used to conduct surprise raids on various water filling centres in the city a few years ago but not many raids were conducted during last year and the first quarter of this calendar year.
So, come summer and the water mafia rules. There will be no one to fix the price for a water tanker. Fixing the price and supplying water is the discretion of the mafia.
Bangaloreans have to be at the mercy of the water mafia during summer unless the BWSSB pulls up its socks to supply water efficiently. There are allegations that the water mafia plays a key role in ensuring as many borewells lie defunct or fall out of order to facilitate their business thrive. For example, most apartments in CV Raman Nagar and other developed areas in Bangalore have to depend on private water suppliers for water.
According to sources privy to the BWSSB, L&T has been assigned to conduct a study the source of unaccounted water connections in Bangalore South. Sources said L&T may be tasked with the maintenance of water supply in Bangalore South in a phased manner.