November 23, 2006

The Price of Life

The Telegraph, 22.11.06

S.L. Rao makes a compelling case for an integrated water management system to be initiated in India. At present, there is ample scope for improving the management of water in India. It would be a good idea for the government to privatize water supply. This would ensure that the pipelines are maintained properly, wastage is minimized and that the quality of water supply improves.

However, the government should simultaneously create a regulatory body that would monitor the tariffs households are supposed to pay for the supply of water. This should be designed in the same way as taxation — the higher the income of the family, the higher the tariff band for that particular household. The government should also set up a subsidy structure and lower the tariff bands for the poors.

Such a system would combine the efficiency of the private sector in delivering public services and the resources of the state in ensuring that the poor and the needy are not neglected in the new system. Such a system can also be implemented in a number of other areas, including healthcare and education where the rich enjoy a lion’s share of the resources while the poor are left to survive without the basic necessities of life.


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