Stream it like Malkapur

Malkapur, a small town in Satara district of Maharashtra, with a population of about 40,000, has shown the way. It is delivering water 24x7 to all its residents as a result of concrete steps taken by the Malkapur Nagar Panchayat (MNP) with support from the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (MJP), a state government entity. Malkapur, located on the outskirts of the city of Karad, is a new urban area.

I had the privilege of participating in a recent seminar of the Asian Development Bank, which focussed on best practices in urban development in Asia. The story of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) is an outstanding example of public sector turnaround. The presentation at the seminar was made by none other than Ek Sonn Chan, the legendary waterman of our times. As General Director of Cambodia's PPWSA, Chan had radically transformed a decrepit and war-torn water supply system, known for its missing water and missing customers, to a model public sector utility that now provides 24-hour drinking water to the city of Phnom Penh. I had an opportunity to visit the plant six months ago, and was further inspired by what I saw.

I wondered when we will see something like this happening in India. There are some examples of public private partnerships delivering continuous supply of water, but can our public sector do the same? Well, Malkapur has done it! It is indeed a home-grown initiative driven by the public sector while engaging and involving the multiple stakeholders.

In December 2002, the government of Maharashtra gave a nod to a new water supply system for Malkapur, which would cost Rs 9.5 crore and serve an expected population of around 67,000 by 2030 at 55 litres per capita per day (lpcd) with the existing distribution network of 12.5 km. This project was commissioned in 2005.

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