The success of the pilot drinking water scheme implemented by the State Government in select pockets of Gulbarga, Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum has prompted the authorities to extend the scheme to the entire municipal area of the three cities. Similar schemes are on the anvil for implementation in other tier-2 cities as well.
Sources in the Department of Urban Development told The Hindu here that private sector participation will be invited for the drinking water distribution scheme in the three cities and global tenders for the same will be floated shortly. “It should, however, be noted that this does not mean that drinking water supply is being privatised. The role of the private player is to ensure efficient water management and distribution apart from preventing leakages en route to the consumer. It is the municipal authority which will finalise the water tariff and also collect the water-user charges,” they said.
Before and after
Prior to the implementation of the pilot scheme, consumers who used between 5,000 to 50,000 litres a month were all paying a fixed rate. With the pilot scheme, they have to pay between Rs. 90 to Rs. 2,000 depending on the quantum of water consumed. The scheme aims at better management of available water and distribution. Leakage in water lines had drastically reduced from 40 per cent to 5 per cent resulting in more water being available to consumers.
The World Bank, which assisted the Rs. 237-crore pilot scheme in 2007, is expected to assist in the comprehensive scheme. The project cost is estimated at nearly Rs. 750 crore.
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, along with senior officials led by Principal Secretary to Government, Department of Urban Development D. Thangaraj, recently briefed a World Bank team, headed by its country director Roberto Zagha, on the salient features of the 24/7 drinking water supply scheme. The team is stated to have commended the implementation of the pilot scheme which serves nearly 5,000 consumers each in Gulbarga, Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum.
The bulk water to all tier-2 cities is made available by the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board and the municipal corporations concerned manage the tertiary distribution network.
According to sources, water availability in Belgaum, which was 123 litres per head before the pilot scheme was introduced, has now increased to 182 litres per head. In Gulbarga, it has increased from 46 litres per head to 101 litres now. In Hubli-Dharwad, once-in-a-week water supply has now become round the clock for nearly 4,000 households.