Nath: India needs more water PPPs

Kamal Nath (pictured), India’s minister for urban development, has called for a ramping up of public-private partnership activity in the country’s water and waste management sectors. He hailed existing water PPPs in several cities for their ‘excellent service outcomes’.

Kamal Nath, India’s minister for urban development, has called for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to become mainstream in the country’s water and waste management sectors.

Speaking in New Delhi, he said this was a necessary development “not only because it brings in much needed capital but also because it brings about greater efficiency and higher levels of customer satisfaction”. He added that the total investment in these sectors over the last 20 years had been about one-tenth of that required.

He went on to say that the implementation of PPP projects in cities such as Nagpur, Hubli-Dharwad and Navi Mumbai “have been able to demonstrate excellent service outcomes such as round-the-clock supply and lower incidence of diseases without significant increase in cost to the consumer”.

In the speech to senior government officials and representatives of the water industry, he also referred to a proposal to launch a €200 million urban infrastructure fund focused on PPPs “with German collaboration”, though no further details of the fund were given.

Nath added that the pressure on services was greater in smaller municipal corporations than larger ones and that it was “imperative”, therefore, that special attention is given to smaller cities. He also highlighted the need for reforms and capacity building in urban local bodies and within water and sanitation utilities.

Nath's words carry weight when it comes to PPPs. As India’s roads minister, he made a huge impact with plans to build 20 kilometres of new road per day, with a heavy reliance on the private sector. Nath, who was Infrastructure Investor’s global Minister of the Year in 2009, switched to his urban development brief in January 2011.