Part IV: Whipping the Delhi Jal Board into shape
Before you start reading this section, take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it! Here’s why: your intent to read this section tells us that you probably read though:
- “Part I: What’s this water crisis everyone keeps talking about anyway?” -where we introduced you to the water crisis in Delhi
- “Part II: Delhi Jal Board – the villain of the piece” – where we chronicled the mismanagement at what could easily be one of the most inept metropolitan water utilities in the free world, and
- “Part III: It’s all about the money, honey!” – where you fearlessly went where few men/women have dared to go – the financial nightmare that is the DJB budgetary accounts.
What you have accomplished is no mean feat, because your reading through these sections is testament to your commitment to understanding Delhi’s water crisis in a meaningful way. Hopefully, our well-intended smatterings of humour helped (please lie if you disagree).
Now that we know that you’re certifiably awesome, we invite you to join us as we journey through the last 2 sections of this series. This is undeniably the most important (read nerdy fun) part because now we’re ready to talk about solutions!
Multi-pronged resolution to water crisis
While there is no magic bullet here (you didn’t think it would that easy now, did you?), a multi-pronged approach can achieve a holistic and long-lasting resolution to the water crisis in Delhi (yes, we promise this can be done in your lifetime).
Here are the four critical components:
- Unlocking DJB’s true revenue potential through sweeping reform
- Political will
- Sensible pricing that balances economic prudence with affordable, equitable access
- Conservation efforts at individual and state levels
We’ll tackle the DJB in this section. We’ll break down the remaining components in the next and final section.
Unlocking DJB’s True Revenue Potential Through Sweeping Reform
After reading Part II and Part III of this series, you’re now painfully aware of all that’s wrong at the DJB (we had enough to fill up the entire series, but decided to limit it to 2 sections). Its fairly obvious to you now what needs to be done, isn’t it? EVERYTHING!!
The DJB is need of deep, systemic reform. But what should be the core, unifying objective of such a transformation as it begins to happen? Hint – we gave away the answer in the title.
Unlocking the DJB’s true revenue potential needs to be the broad guiding objective as this transformation commences. The reasons are simple:
- Before undertaking anything fancy like building dams upstream, the DJB needs to put its house in order. This would require myriads of necessary investments, both capital and operational, in things such as laying new distribution lines, building new Underground Water Reservoirs, replacing leaking sluice gates on the filter beds of treatment plants, replacing defective valves in pipelines, installing new water meters, replacing non-functional ones etc. etc. (It’s a long, but surprisingly common-sensical list) .In order for the DJB to achieve its full revenue potential, these multitudinous mini goals would have to be achieved -> hence the aptness of this super goal.
- Not convinced by the aforementioned argument? How’s this – the investments detailed above would require money, which the DJB would have to borrow from the government on top of the enormous debt it already has. The government’s money = tax payer money = your money. Get it? You are gonna have to pay for this. If the DJB does not attempt to achieve its revenue potential, you’ll have to pay much more. (It is our experience that nothing encourages interest or receptivity, like the involvement of one’s own money).
- Finally, here’s what should really drive it home for you: an organization that collects revenues for less than 40% of the goods it provides (remember, DJB’s non revenue water is a whopping 63%) has no business focusing on anything other achieving its revenue potential.
Wall of shame: DJB earns revenue on <40% of total water produced