Get ready for Water Discoms

In conformity with the 74th amendment to the Constitution, the Rajasthan state government contemplates delegating some of its functions to the urban local bodies, which in turn can hand them over to the private players.Now, the citizens will have to prepare themselves to get the basic civic amenities like water supply through private distribution companies (discoms). Preparations are afoot to start this initiative in select cities, particularly in Jaipur, Kota, Ajmer, Pushkar and Baran, on a pilot basis. In her last budget speech, chief minister Vashundhara Raje had outlined the urgent need for reforms in the water supply sector in view of various inconsistencies in its distribution in almost all municipal towns, let alone frequency and quality of water supply.As per the recently submitted reports of the sub-committees constituted on discoms, infrastructure, tariff and other arrangements, experts’ views have been incorporated and the final decision is awaited at the government level.“It has been decided till this date that the public health and engineering department (PHED) will be divested of their traditional re-sponsibility of distributing water. They will now only source the raw water to discoms, which will have to treat and distribution it, ” said Anand Mohan Singh, project director (local bodies). “There would be a differential tariff system based on demand and supply. Most importantly, the rate of tariff will be fixed by the respective local bodies,” he added.According to sources, as per the sub-committee reports, the modalities on revenue sharing arrangement, profits and other structural arrangements will be discussed by the JMC and the PHED so far Jaipur is concerned.It has also been decided to have city-specific water tariff structure with cross-subsidisation while there will be no subsidy for commercial uses. The poor sections will have lower rates while the rates would be applied on the basis of quantum of uses by a single consumer.The sources said that the new arrangement will also look into the waste water (industrial and otherwise) treatment and the contract for the water distribution in the city would have this as an important component.There would be a number of stakeholders in the venture including the state government, the local bodies and the concerned discoms who would be investing in it.In order to have a majority stake and ownership in the venture, the government contemplates keeping more than 50% of its equity with itself and the local bodies as well. Experts believe that there is an overhaul on the anvil like strict meterage, rise in frequency of distribution and improved quality of civic water supply system across the state.

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