Special Correspondent

‘MCC’s move a step towards privatisation of water services’

The MoU allows the company to maintain drinking water and distribution needs of the city

Take steps to ensure water tariff is not increased, councillors urged

MYSORE: The Citizens Committee’s Coordination Forum has opposed the Mysore City Corporation’s (MCC) decision to hand over drinking water distribution and maintenance works to Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company Ltd. (JUSCO).

Members of the forum on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the Mayor describing the move as a step towards privatisation of water services and called for greater transparency in the deal with JUSCO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel.

The forum has questioned the manner in which a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed and urged the authorities to make public contents of the MoU and seek its opinion.

Signatories to the memorandum also urged MCC councillors to adopt a resolution against privatisation of water services in any manner, take steps to ensure that water tariff was not increased and ensure that all initiatives and projects pertaining to drinking water supply be taken by the Government.

The memorandum said that secrecy surrounding the signing of the MoU raised concern among the citizens about the motives behind roping in JUSCO. Pointing out that while nobody questioned the imperatives of brining about efficiency in water resource management, the forum wondered if privatisation was the only means of bringing about greater efficiency.

The forum members averred that it was the duty of the Government to ensure supply of drinking water to the publicby not only bearing the expenditure but also subsidising the tariff. If the right to water was violated it could culminate in a public movement, they said.

The forum said that public services were being weakened by corruption and nepotism, and this was later used as a pretext to privatise them for commercial gain.

Stating that no private company would sign an MoU and make investments without profit motive, the forum sought details of the MoU and questioned the rationale behind proposing increase in the minimum tariff from Rs. 60 to Rs. 100.

The MoU allows JUSCO to maintain the drinking water and distribution needs of the city for six years. It includes hydraulic remodelling of the existing system within the first 12 months and in the second phase, remodelling the distribution network to reduce water loss. The final phase, running into two years, will involve providing round-the-clock water supply in the entire city.

However, this has run into controversy with MCC councillors opposing the deal after visiting Jamshedpur on a fact-finding mission on the grounds that the model would not suit Mysore.