We have to shut down private tankers for water

As long as we allow two systems of sale of water – one through pipes and another through tankers – we can never have affordability, equity, reliability, or any of the other things we associate with this basic human need. The water tanker business is nothing more than a mafia, which exploits a public resource for private gain. We absolutely have to shut it down.

All water supply must be by the government only. If there has to be tanker supply in un-piped areas then let the government run those tankers. And let there be uniform pricing of water, regardless of the mode of delivery.

In addition, we must separate lifeline water supply from the other needs. Every family, especially every poor family, must get its lifeline water needs free. Pricing to recover costs can happen above this threshold.

The easiest way to achieve both these goals is to set up a Bangalore Water Regulation Authority, similar to KERC for power, and let transparent regulation drive the use, conservation and pricing of water. This should have been done years back. The fact that we still have not done it is due to one reason only – there is money in water, and the politicians and the tanker mafia have a cosy nexus that keeps this money flowing into their coffers.

We have to end this madness.

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About Ashwin Mahesh 96 Articles
Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.