Affiliations: Programme Manager, Bombay First (Bombay City Policy Research Foundation), 4th Floor, Y B Chavan Centre, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400 021, India. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: In India, the progress of the urban water supply sector has been very slow because of improper focus and inadequate reforms in the urban local bodies. Even large cities like Mumbai are yet to undertake reforms for improving the efficiency of water service provision. Mumbai's future requirements of water resources were to be largely met through an expansion of the water supply system in an incremental manner. However, such a course of action has now come under question due to a rapid rise in water demand (on account of the increasing population) on one hand and snags in supply on the other. As such, there has hardly been any strategic focus on ‘demand management’ and on improving the efficiency in service delivery. In spite of these lacunae, no reforms have been undertaken in urban water resources management as the concerned authorities refuse to acknowledge the water deficit situation in Mumbai. This paper argues against such a stance. It first provides a quantitative and analytical overview of the water resource status in Mumbai and then outlines the need for reforms on several fronts, particularly in water institutions and governance, while elaborating on some of them. It is hoped that the institutions and agencies responsible for water resource management will soon embark upon such a reform agenda and provide improved service delivery as well as adopt a pragmatic and balanced approach towards water management through a choice of policy instruments and institutional changes.