National

Vishvaraj Infra to provide 3.81 lakh water connections in 5 Karnataka cities

MAMUNI DAS AM JIGEESH New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on July 03, 2015

On user response, the Chairman said that 85% people in Nagpur’s jhuggi-jhonpri (slum) areas paid bills without follow-ups

Once completed, 81,000 people will be able to drink water straight from the tap







Water privatisation may be a politically contentious issue, but that has not deterred Vishvaraj Infrastructure, a company implementing road projects worth ₹16,120 crore in Maharashtra, from foraying into water distribution on a public-private-partnership (PPP) basis.

Having started a water distribution project in Nagpur, the company is now implementing projects in five cities of Karnataka – Magadi, Bidar, Basavakalyan, Shahabad and Yadgir – to create 3.81 lakh water connections and lay 992 km of pipelines. After these projects are completed, over 81,000 people will be able to drink water straight from their taps in these five cities, as one does in developed countries, says Arun Lakhani, Chairman and Managing Director of Nagpur-based Vishvaraj Infrastructure, which plans to overhaul the water distribution network in these cities.

User concerns

However, in Nagpur, where three lakh connections will be provided, people won’t get potable water in taps because the company is changing only 25 per cent of the distribution network, as some portions of the pipelines in Nagpur are 50-70 years old, Lakhani told BusinessLine.

“Communicating with people and getting them on board is crucial while taking up such a project. There is a World Bank report that quotes not-so-successful projects and the main reason is mishandling of the social side,” he added.

Lakhani said, “We had an interesting experience in Nagpur. Across the political spectrum – left to right – runs a common thread. The concern was whether we were doing privatisation of water,” he said.

The company said it crunched some numbers to prove that it made social as well business sense. Nagpur pumps 540 million litres of water a day, of which only 140 (26 per cent) million litres are accounted for. “In effect, you lose 400 million litres, which is non-revenue water. If all water is metered, there can be chances of tariffs actually going down, as many more people will be paying,” he says.

On the concern that privatisation can lead to supply shortage which, in turn, will make private operators limit supply to only those who pay more, Lakhani said the firm’s job basically involves making tap water connections available to all houses and metering them, adding that tariffs will be charged as decided by the municipal body.

Response

On user response, Lakhani said 85 per cent people in Nagpur’s jhuggi-jhonpri (slum) areas paid bills without follow-ups. “When asked why, they said normally these are working couples. After an individual tap connection, they were saving up to six hours of waiting time and were thus able to earn more,” he said.

The company’s job is to ensure 24X7 water supply to all citizens of Nagpur, 100 per cent metering and house service connection replacement within seven years.

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Published on July 03, 2015
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