The election of the “Common Man” government in Delhi has rocked Indian power politics. Their unconventional approach is refreshing but inexperienced.
Today, Duncan Green’s blog hosts Biraj Swain of the Right to Water Coalition, explaining the transformations happening because of the party’s fulfilling their promise to provide free ‘lifeline’ water to all households. It is a process of the remunicipalisation of water – taking back power in public-private partnerships, to better serve the urban poor.
In an era where PPP is touted as the silver bullet for all essential services challenges, the state is often forced to retreat. The chief minister is resisting by re-drawing the boundaries of the state itself, re-introducing citizen-state oversight over utilities and their functioning.
Whether this experiment will succeed in bringing down power bills sustainably while keeping the access equitable, is yet to be seen. But it has already prompted unprecedented public debates and education on the workings of the power and water sectors, hitherto inaccessible to the general public. We can be agnostic about whether public or private provision works best, but there can be no debate on greater accountability and transparency of utilities and their operations.