Thursday, September 20, 2012

Challenges in and Levers for success of the 24x7 water supply projects in India

As one wonders what has been holding back the operationalization of the 24x7 water supply projects in India, we thought of penning down our observations around it.

Even before kicking-off the operations, one observes that the long gestation period (5+ years) to engage and realize even first pilot is a show-stopper. This is primarily because of:
    • lack of standardization of the model, and various agency issues at Central, State & ULB level
    • delays in contract sign-off & getting consensus on SLAs and new Tariff agreement
    • Delayed financial closures - constricted investments flow from investors, because of perceived high risk of regulated (& politicised) utility
Levers for Successful Implementation of 24x7 Projects

As the operators take-over and start the operations, the first challenge hitting them in the face is the inaccurate baselines. Revisions in tariff, SLAs, employee deputation follow. The lack of education of customers, employees and local politicians on the PPP models affect all the other stakeholders. 

The nascency of the industry has created an acute shortage of skilled middle management resources that are ready to engage on-ground in Tier-2/3 towns. Further to this, the lack of investment from operators in Strategy, Structure, Systems and Processes, and doing it right from long term perspective creates a totally different shade of problems.

The technological levers of GIS modelling based on low confidence data collection, and fast obsoletion, no useful optimization and design possible. Only static view is captured on GIS and no real  updates happen in the system. Even though water metering (bulk and end-customers) and regular auditing is being stressed upon & invested in, no useful actions are enforced based on analytics. (Power sector has long been metering and doing energy audits, but losses have only increased, because of missing actions. Water is just starting to walk on same trail, and will likely see similar results.)

Finally, there seems to be a total lack of SLAs performance monitoring and enforcement institution. This gives rise to ever-moving targets, and cross blaming.

Overall, currently Management change, and Technology are being stressed upon for the success of 24x7 water supply projects. We believe that there is a need for two additional levers - Performance Monitoring and Customer Engagement, to bring effective Change Management. We strongly believe, that its operationalisation of these models that has to be improved, and rest will follow. 

1 comment:

  1. Your points are correct . We just finished 24x7 at Sangli Miraj Municipal corporation . I faced these issues .
    Comments posted by:
    Ashok Natrajan
    CEO, Water Technology company at United Phosphorus Ltd.
    As seen on: LinkedIn Community of "Water Sector Reforms - India"