Thursday, July 05, 2007

Poor to pay dear for Melamchi water

Razen Manandhar Kathmandu, July 4

Once the ambitious Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) sees the light of day, private water vendors will literally sell water, especially to the poor living in the slums of the valley.A Low Income Consumer Support Unit (LICSU), a side project of the MWSP, is going to handle the supply to the poor through local interested bodies who will collect money from the poor for letting them use the community taps, to be installed for the the slums dwellers and the squatters.

The LICSU will be a part of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, the authority to generate water sources and manage and distribute the water supply in the valley.

After consulting the LICSU, the management contractor will prepare a plan — Community Tap Improvement Plan (CTIP) — to improve the service from the standposts. It will detail the LICSU’s role in managing the drinking water in slums by transferring management responsibility for existing standposts to either Water User Groups, municipalities or private water vendors, according to the draft contract paper of MWSP.
It is not clear who will be the water vendors, and how they will be authorised to collect money from the slum dwellers for using taps.

The water utility office and the operators of the community taps will reach a community tap connection agreement (CTCA). The management contractor will not be responsible to relocate the old community taps. “The funding for the relocation of the existing standposts and the construction of new community taps will be obtained from external sources,” adds the contract paper, without clarifying the source.
As per the contract, up to 350 new community taps will be installed in the valley. As per the arrangement, the LICSU should have called local operators by May 1, but the controversy surrounding the Melamchi project has delayed that.

Diwas Bahadur Basnet, the team leader of LICSU project, says the project intends to provide drinking water at affordable price. “We are doing our best to provide water to the poor, who, otherwise, will be deprived access to water,” he said.

Source: The Himalayan Times, July 5 2007,