Institutional Change Needs for Sustainable Urban Water Management in India

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"Rise in population coupled with rapid economic growth is seen as a major factor resulting in higher rate of water resources depletion globally. The problem of water scarcity is more acute in cities and towns of the developing world, where most of the challenges of water supply, sanitation and environmental sustainability are still unanswered. In these towns and cities, urban water systems are troubled with: 1) inefficient water pricing; 2) heavy leakage & unaccounted for water losses; 3) contamination of the supplied water and; 4) lack of political will, and institutional & financial capability for carrying out reforms. Situation in Indian urban centers is much alarming where distribution losses alone are in the order of 30-50 per cent of the total water supplied. The condition is even worse for informal settlements and slums in these urban areas where basic water and sanitation infrastructure are altogether missing. In order to meet these growing urban water management challenges, there is need for paradigm shift, i.e., shift in the way the urban water resources are managed. This research paper highlights the institutional change needs for sustainable urban water management in India. The institutional change will involve: 1) one or combination of organizational change measures comprising decentralization, private sector participation and, community-based management; 2) directive reforms and; 3) human resource development. The finer aspects will depend upon the physical and socio-economic environment, political situation and administrative set up that exist in the urban area. The institutional changes will be more so important for small urban towns where public utilities are given little attention. All these together can contribute to making Indian cities better prepared for averting the risk, in face of rapid urbanization, climate change and water scarcity."



urban affairs, water management, organizational change, reform