I am doing a very interesting course this semester. It’s called Infrastructure Planning and Management, and I thorughly enjoy it. We in class have been discussing about various issues regarding infrastructural systems like Power, Transportation, Telecommunication, Water and Sanitation etc.
Dealing with water has been the most interesting experience so far. Let me pose you a question to begin with. How much do you pay for a litre of potable water? The second question is, how much do you think the slum dwellers pay for it? Is it less or is it more?
You would be surprised to learn that, the poor living in slums (which mostly are spread over illegal land) end up paying way more than you do. The World Bank has data to prove that. And the reason is pretty simple. We can get pipe connections, which brings public water while they can’t get these piped connections since they don’t have a legal address to provide! How do they get water then? They have to buy it from private water suppliers who generally bring tankers to the areas. And by all calculations, these tankers charge way more than what the publicly provided water costs.
What a state of affairs! Do you think a solution exists?
I would also like to ask few basic questions, which if not answered in the beginning itself, won’t ever let you implement any change in the existing water and sanitation infrastructure in India and for that matter in most of the developing countries.
Who owns natural water? Is it the government? Or are they the common people? Or no one at all?
Is water a basic human right? If yes, does it mean it should be given away for free to everyone?
Let’s see what you guys have to reflect on this. I will carry on the talk with upcoming posts.