Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beware of the mirage of 24X7 Ganga water supply for 25 Bihar towns besides Patna

The 24X7 safe water supply is an euphemism for privatization of water supply. Citizen groups  of Patna are wary of Patna water supply project that began as a Rs 800 crore Build–operate–transfer (BOT)  project. It was turned into a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) project of Rs 750 crore. The State Government changed the project into an Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contract and invited bids for the Rs 550 crore project. 
A SPV of Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo) is executing the project under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). BUIDCo invited firms to design, build, operate, manage and maintain the new 24x7 water supply system in Patna.
The consortium of Geo Miller & Company Private Limited and Gammon India Limited has been chosen by the BUIDCo for the job. 
Geo Miller has been implementing water supply projects across the country, including water treatment plants in Hyderabad, Bhopal and Udaipur. Gammon India is the same company that has built the admittedly flawed Kosi Mahasetu whose adverse effects has already been recorded and in future too its victims will suffer its consequences.    
The promise of 24X7 Ganga water supply is a mirage, residents of Patna in particular and citizens of Bihar ought to be wary of given the fact that DPR for 24 X 7 water supply for 25 Bihar towns is in the offing. These towns are Bettiah, Motihari, Saharsa, Sitamarhi, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnia, Ara, Chapra, Hajipur, Siwan, Aurangabad, Bhabua, Buxar, Sasaram, Bihar Sharif, Jehanabad, Nawada, Rajgir, Shaikhpura, Banka, Begusarai, Jamui, Lakhisarai and Munger 
The reported claims of Bihar Urban development and housing minister Prem Kumar about 24X7 supply of safe drinking water to all households in Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) area within the next two years merits rigorous scrutiny.
Water treatment plant, 25 tubewells and 72 water towers are proposed to be constructed to supply water to about 16.83 lakh people residing in 72 wards of Patna. A gauge would be used to measure the supply of 135 litres of drinking water per person per day and the scheme would ensure supply of 325 million litre of water per day (MLD).
The 47 wards of the northern part are to receive 220 MLD drinking water treated from the Ganga river from the water treatment plant that would be constructed at Digha. The 25 wards of South Patna are supposed to get 105.5 MLD of drinking water through tubewells.
It has been reported that the joint initiative by the central and state governments would see a total expenditure of Rs 548 crore, of which Rs 476 crore would be spent for infrastructure to supply drinking water and Rs 72 crore for maintenance over the next 10 years.
The execution of the project has been assigned to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) company Patna Water Supply Distribution Network Private Limited under BUIDCo. It is expected to complete the work before April 1, 2014 and the company would be looking after the maintenance of the project for the next 10 years.
Citizens' groups in Patna and other 25 towns will have to examine the track record of these companies and their performance in other cities of the country.

No comments: