Water Privatisation and Reforms

Privatisation, commodification and reforms in the water sector


In this theme, Manthan has been studying various aspects related to privatisation and commodification of water, and in particular all the processes going on under the name of reforms in the water sector. We have a very broad understanding of privatisation, to mean any mechanism that gives any private player a control of any part of the water system. By commodification, we mean any arrangement where water is a commodity that is bought or sold, and where profits can dominate other concerns. Such a broad “definition” of privatisation is proposed because this is the definition that can help us understand the impacts of privatisation and commodification of water in their true nature and extent.

Sub-sections in this theme

The Overview sub-section of this theme looks at overarching processes and developments in privatisation and commodification of water. It looks at overall policy issues, major interventions like water supply schemes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the series of privatisation of water supply in small towns, and other reforms in the water sector like the creation and functioning of Water Regulatory Authorities. This section also has thematic studies pertaining to water privatisation and reforms, in particular on alternatives to privatisation. It also attempts to bring together several strands to present the macro picture(s).

Another activity in this theme has involved maintaining and updating Databases of privatised water projects in India, water sector reforms in various states, and two other related databases. Due to resource constraints, we have not been able to maintain these databases after March 2013. But databases till this date are available.

We will also undertake detailed Case Studies of important projects in water privatisation from various parts of the country.

Apart from this, another theme looks at Water Sector Reforms which are mainly going on at the state level, as water is a state subject. These reforms often include policy and legal measures focussing on commercialisation, marketisation and privatisation in the water sector.

An important component of this theme is working together closely with communities in the relevant cities and towns, and building their capacities to be able to independently intervene in local developments.