Union govt asks Kerala to speed up privatisation of drinking water distribution in Kochi, TVM

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Thiruvananthapuram: The union government has pushed the Kerala government to implement the drinking water project proposed in 2017 for Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram cities.

An assured loan from the Asian Development Bank will be lost if at least 30 per cent of the project is not completed by March 2023, including tender procedures.

If implemented, the Kerala Urban Water Services Improvement Project will privatise the drinking water distribution system in the two cities. The union government has directed Kerala to return the scheme if it is not interested in implementing it.

The project received the union government’s approval in 2018 and project administration approval from the state government in 2020. The state government had invited tenders for consultancies a year ago and urged them to prepare a project document by incorporating eight companies that participated in the bid.

Infrastructure development for the project has been finished in many South Indian cities, including Coimbatore, where it was set in motion along with Kerala. Besides this, several states such as Maharashtra have requested the union government to launch the project in its cities.

Following the union government’s intervention, the Kerala State Water Authority has decided to speed up the proceedings.

Complete authority for private companies

According to the contract with ADB, private companies will be entrusted with the complete authority of drinking water distribution for 10 years in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. Companies may also be authorised to incur water taxes and increase charges. However, officials say crucial decisions will be taken only after discussions.

Project worth Rs 2510 cr

Rs 1,757 crore out of the total project cost of Rs 2,510 crore can be availed as ADB loan at 2 per cent interest rate. The state government’s share will be Rs 753 crore. The drinking water distribution chain in Ernakulam will be developed in the first phase followed by renovation works in Thiruvananthapuram. The drinking water storage facilities in Aluva and Aruvikkara will also be developed in the third and fourth phases, respectively.

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