Visakhapatnam is expected to see water sector reforms as it accesses a loan to modernise its water network for household and industrial usage. The loan will be under the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Visakhapatnam-Chennai industrial corridor development programme.

Manoj Sharma, Principal Urban Development Specialist, South Asia Department, ADB, while responding to a BusinessLine query, said that $245 million loan will be spent on various projects including water supply in Visakhapatnam to convert existing water supply to round the clock supply, reducing water losses, improving efficiency and giving pressurised, high quality supply to the citizens.

“We have been engaging with Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC). As part of our policy dialogue, we have requested GVMC to take measures. First, ensure metering for all consumers and bulk users…to measure production and consumption. Network will be redesigned on district metering area basis,” he added.

The aim would be to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) – water not billed, lost in transmission or in pilferage – to less than 10 per cent. ADB “guesstimates” the NRW in Visakhapatnam to be over 40 per cent or closer to 50 per cent, since there are no consumption meters in Visakhapatnam.

Water saved from water losses is water produced and this, in turn, can used to supply water at pressure which can take the precious commodity to second storeys and other high rise buildings in the city.

“In addition to metering, we are also talking to GVMC to have water tariffs to recover at least the operation and maintenance costs, if not the capital costs. Currently, there are no water tariffs, there are usage charges based on individual household irrespective of consumption,” shared Sharma.

ADB will advise the municipal corporation to move to volumetric tariff based on water meters, O&M cost recovery, reduction in water losses, and ensuring that individual piped connections are provided to slum areas. Slum areas will get a priority to get piped water supply.

ADB will extend $245 million loan to focus mainly on infrastructure in the cities of Visakhapatnam and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti – two of the four business centres in the Visakhapatnam-Chennai industrial corridor. Corridor development includes urban development. The $245 million loan is part of the $500 million multi-tranche financing facility to finance projects in four industrial centres – Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Amravati, and Yerpedu Srikalahasti. The second tranche is expected to be approved by ADB in 2018.

ADB can also increase the loan. “We realise $500 million is not enough to improve urban development, transport, power and other infrastructure. We will continue to support the government if there is good absorption capacity,” shared Sharma.