24×7 Water in India – November 2011 news roundup

Most of the 24×7 water supply news this month has been dominated by what appears to be fierce controversy in Nagpur.

Nagpur continues with its 24×7 supply project through privatization, despite opposition.  Veolia has been the operator for the pilot project, but it seems that the scale-up operations will be handed to a different company, Orange City Water Limited.  According to the ToI, the NMC has created a vehicle for the privatization arrangement called Nagpur Environmental Service Ltd, which will work in partnership with the OCWL.

As per agreement, OCWL will take over the entire work, from water treatment plants to billing, for a period of 25 years. The private operator will also execute 24×7 water supply project.

The handover does not appear to be going over smoothly, since only 35 of over 400 employees have agreed to work for NESL, so there are few experienced staff to help with the handover. The stand-off seems to be over as of today, with a rather strange arrangement where employees will stay with NMC and continue to operate the water ‘works’ while OWCL will operate the ‘water’ (the ToI explains this as clear as it can be with the liberal use of quotes in this article title), with a guarantee that areas will ‘receive water equally’ (equal time? equal water? equal pressure?  How will they track this anyway?) within 7 months.

I have been poking around on the internets to figure out exactly who OCWL is, as it had been reported earlier this year that the 25-year contract would be awarded to Veolia.  However, the name OCWL appears to come up only in reference to Nagpur (I’m doubting a relation to Orange City, FL).  Veolia in India usually operates under the name Veolia Water India Private Limited, as far as I know.  Who is OCWL?  Do they operate anywhere else? Are they an Indian company?

Here’s an interesting take on some of the opposition against 24×7: First jolt: 24×7 water project leaves 450 licensed plumbers jobless.
“Since last many decades we have been providing services like fitting new and replacing defunct meters, new connections, repairing of leakages etc. Moreover, we had obtained the licence from the civic body by paying Rs 5,000 as licence fee and Rs 1000 which we pay every year as the renewal fees,” plumbers alleged.

It seems, looking to other 24×7 projects accomplished through privatization, that it could be possible to retrain plumbers and incorporate them into the operation.  I believe this is what is being done in Hubli, where plumbers can get certified in the “modern” methods needed for any new types of technology.

A less controversial 24×7 project has been approved for Pune with an Italian company.

The consultant is supposed to execute all steps of the project from preparing detailed project report (DPR) to completion and maintenance of the project. The consultant will provide service for 11 years, including five-and-a-half years of preparing DPR and implementation of the project.

In the first phase, the consultant should prepare DPR, conduct basic water audit, detect distribution losses and get approval to the DPR from authorities. In the second phase, the consultant is supposed to prepare tenders for the project and ensure implementation of the project in five years.

In the third phase, the consultant is supposed to ensure repairing and maintenance, to prevent distribution losses, to increase number of water treatment plants and to increase automation. Bidkar said that the consultant is supposed to take into account problems in water supply in the next three decades.

There doesn’t appear to be a pilot project in Pune, but it seems this is a new approach where the company will first operate water supply and then upgrade it, as opposed to other ones (Karnataka, Nagpur) where the company is brought in specifically to upgrade to 24×7.

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2 thoughts on “24×7 Water in India – November 2011 news roundup

  1. Hey… excellent piece, I’ve been following this project with some concern, too. Just tracked down the genesis of OCWL – it is indeed a Veolia joint venture, not surprisingly. See the recently updated database maintained by Manthan Kendra at http://www.manthan-india.org/IMG/pdf/PSP_Database_Sept-2011.pdf and search for OWCL or the following passage: “Orange City Water Ltd (OCWL) will be the operator which would execute 24×7 water supply scheme and operate water works for a period of 25 years. After emerging as the lowest bidder, NMC issued letter of intent to M/s Veolia Water (India) Private Ltd on November 18, 2010. As per LoI, the company was to take over within 120 days that was on March 18. But the process got delayed. As it is mandatory to have a local partner, France-based Veolia has collaborated with city-based Vishwaraj Infrastructure Limited and formed OCWL. Before taking over, NMC will sign a memorandum of agreement with OCWL. Then, the entire water supply right, from treatment plants to
    consumer-end, billing and collection, will be handed over to OCWL for 25 years.”

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