Nagpur 24x7 Water Projects - An Experiment and a Testimony

The situation
In the sphere of urban development and economic sustainability, it is pivotal to acquire and study as much data as possible. Analysis and learnings from past and on-going projects is necessary for determining the success of future projects and the allocation of national and local budgets.

 

With this in mind, nations such as India must plan decades ahead in order to achieve the desired growth. With a growing population of 1.2 billion people and a scarcity of resources, it is imperative that the Government take swift actions towards long term goals. Water, and its availability, is one such resource which is seen as not only a necessity but an indicator of general well-being. Urban India is often found struggling to provide citizens with clean drinking water and the situation only becomes worse as people migrate from the towns and villages to surrounding cities.

 

Nagpur, the third largest city in Maharashtra, is a great example of a local government taking action to cope with the increasing demands of its inhabitants. Due to rapid urbanisation of Nagpur across the last two decades, the challenges for adequate water supply have also increased. Availability of water has been inconsistent and ranges from a few hours a day to a slightly rare but possible, few minutes a day. Compounded with this is the mismanagement of water distribution leading to losses of up to 60%. In addition quality of water is frequently found to be below drinking standards.

 

In 2012, in order to face this gigantic challenge the Nagpur Municipal Corporation chose to enter in to a Public Private Partnership, a landmark move in the history of the Government working hand-in-hand with the private sector. Nagpur essentially opened it's doors and mind to an opportunity that would help build a streamlined and efficient model which could be replicated in the future.

 

Nagpur became the first city in India to build a 24/7, fully pressurised drinking water supply system. A joint venture company aptly named Orange City Water was created and entered a concussion contract under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM)

 

An expansive requirement for infrastructural upgradation and replacement means that it will take a minimum of five years to connect every citizen with 24/7 water supply. On their end, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation will retain ownership of the assets and will take responsibility of setting up the tariffs. Orange City Water will operate all the water treatment plants and the water distribution network, amounting to a combined capacity of ~750 MLD

 

The goal is to eventually connect the entire city, including the slum population with a safe supply of water, better in quality and pressure. Water wastage is a great concern and this hope is to reduce it significantly, through the better maintenance of storage systems, pipes and taps.

 

During our interview with him, CEO of Vishvaraj Infrastructures, the driving force behind Napur 24x7 water supply project, Mr. Arun Lakhani shared a poignant view on this matter. "Our nation's government needs to see private players not just as tax-paying entities but partners of development. PPPs need to set their goals high in order to gain the most from the benefits."

 

Benefits
The benefits are of this PPP model can only be understood and appreciated by comprehending the advantages that are gained through a 24/7 water supply system.

 

24x7 supply translates to a better public health.Maintaining full pressure removes the risk of bacterial contamination that can occur during interrupted water supply.

 

A PPP in this sector ensures a massive improvement in the services provided to all consumers, who henceforth are seen as customers. An increase in quantity, improvement in timing and consistency in availability across all starts of society is not just expected but required from an economic standpoint. 

 

Service to the poor and to the rich is seen through a non-biased viewer. 24x7 supply means all citizens can hope to enjoy better health and hygiene which preventing the loss in economically productive time earlier used for collecting and carrying water. Indirectly, this saves time for employment opportunities.

 

24x7 allows customers to pay for better service as it reduces the costs they earlier incurred for coping with the inconsistencies.

 

Through efficient management overflowing storage systems are avoided and collected water is prevented from being discarded when new water arrives.