Analyzing the Implications of Water Privatization: Reorienting the Misplaced Debate
Pankti Vora, Maneka Khanna & Arthad Kurlekar
Volume 6 Issue 1 (2013)
The recent public outcry against the Delhi Jal Board’s proposed public private partnership model has rekindled the contentious debate around water privatization and its impact on the urban poor. Several grass root level organisations and activists have coalesced to form the Water Privatization-Commercialization Committee that is actively opposing the project under the patronage of Retired Justice Rajinder Sachar. In this context, this paper seeks to explore the implications of privatization in the financing and management of water supply systems. While it concurs with much of the criticism that has been raised against privatization, it argues that this failure of privatization is actually a reflection of the ‘governance crisis’ in the Indian water sector. By undertaking a detailed examination of the reasons for the inherent failure, it concludes that the focus of the current reforms in the water sector must be directed at establishing a foundation of ‘good governance’, which is imperative to set the stage for a successful process of privatization in India. In this regard, it proposes certain basic, but significant institutional reforms that must be factored into the urban water supply structure to ensure efficiency of the operator, whether public or private.