Inspired by South Africa, the state government is working on an action plan to strengthen control and supply of drinking water and sanitation services in the city and its neighbourhood.
The plan includes overhauling the water supply system, apart from private participation, coordination among departments, adoption of new technology and induction of professionals.
The urban development department has joined hands with foreign agencies and experts of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank for expertise and funds. Representatives from USAID and the World Bank met urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and his officers last week at Writers’ Buildings to finalise the plan.
The proposal envisages a full-fledged company, to be set up comprising experts, engineers, funding agencies and private parties, to oversee all matters relating to water supply. The firm, in which representatives of the CMDA will hold controlling authority, will be empowered to take any decision on implementing government policies on water.
The company will also hold sole authority in taking up plans and projects, their implementation, as well as engaging different agencies and raising funds.
At present, projects for water supply and sanitation are looked after by the Calcutta Metropolitan Water and Sanitation Authority (CMWSA). The proposed company will replace it.
“Our move is aimed at refurbishing the drinking water supply system. Our thrust is on strengthening the management, as we feel that no major work can be completed properly and in time without a professional outlook. The World Bank representatives have appreciated our stand,’’ minister Bhattacharya said.
Urban development secretary K.S. Rajendrakumar said the idea to form a separate company was derived from the Durban municipality in South Africa. “During a visit to the country a few months ago with the minister, we were inspired by their policy of forming separate companies to look after various types of civic services. Though Calcutta is not Durban and the socio-economic conditions do not match, we are trying to follow its example to improve the management of drinking water,” he said.
At present, the CMDA, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the public health engineering department are engaged in drinking water supply. Officials admitted that there is a lack of coordination among the three agencies, which creates problems while drafting any major project. They felt that work could be conducted more smoothly if a single expert agency was entrusted with the job.
“We have taken up both short and long-term projects to boost drinking water supply in the city and its adjoining areas. We will not be able to achieve the goal unless we adopt a professional attitude and a modern outlook,” said the urban development secretary.