Arun Lakhani shares his views on Urbanization and public participation at the Lokmat event

Honorable Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Devendraji Fadanavis, Chairman of Lokmat Group Shri Vijaybabu Darda, Guardian Minister Shri Chandrashekharji Bavankule, Honorable Mayor Shri Praveenji Datke, respected MPs, MLAs, Officers and dear friends,


Firstly, I congratulate Lokmat Group and Shri Vijaybabu for creating this progressive, much needed and useful platform. Bringing decision makers and stakeholders together on such a platform will definitely provide a push for the development. The discussions on this platform will help create Vision 2020.

The need of such a dialogue has become all the more important in this era of rapid urbanization. In any developed country, where basic needs such as water, electricity and housing have been fulfilled, smart city seeks public participation. However, public participation is also important when the development is going on. While executing ‘24×7 water system’ we have experienced this. Communication with citizens makes execution easier.

We should understand that all projects related to city development are social projects. Whenever a new project is launched, citizens will naturally have questions about those projects. If we satisfy their queries, citizens will look at these projects with a positive view. And to have meaningful dialogues with citizens, platforms such as this are necessary.

Active people participation strengthens any project. Citizens become part of shortcomings, challenges as well as ownership of that project. In PPP projects, we present it as a 4P model. P-People/Public as Government, P-Private and P-People as citizens. This 4th P strengthens PPP structure. It is difficult to build projects of duration of 25 to 30 years without this 4th P.

Even Government, NMC and NIT should stress on communication. In the whole life cycle of a project, there should be a provision for public dialogue and feedback. It will speed up the execution of the project.

Even as Nagpur could not find a place in the first list of Smart Cities, Nagpur city is well-known across the country and globe for its progressive initiatives. Nagpur is known for the physical execution of Metro in record time as well as for Ethanol Buses. The 24×7 water system was presented with the Best Recognition by the Government of India in the presence of Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Honorable commissioner Mr. Hardikar gave a presentation to 500 Mayors. The Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra has developed the policy of using treated water in Thermal stations taking a cue from the Sewage Treatment with Reuse of Water project in Nagpur. Sewage Treatment and Reuse Project has a unique peculiarity. The income that will be generated by providing processed sewage water to thermal stations will cover the total cost of the project thus making it absolutely free for the Municipal Corporation. More importantly, 20 crore litre water reserved for electricity generation can be used for drinking purpose in the city. Considering the standard norm of 135 litre per day per person, it will fulfill the drinking water need of 15 lakh population. Water that is used by power stations will be available for lakhs of people for drinking. It will bring down the rate of water-bourne diseases which is 21 per cent at present. With big rise in urban population, this project is considered path-breaking. Many such long-term projects are thought of and there are many more things to do in Nagpur. It is necessary to discuss how these models will become efficient, accountable and sustainable. Models built on these norms will be successful.

While thinking of Vision 2020, it should have a base of this interaction. And while defining the vision, it is imperative to understand the needs, thoughts and priorities of the stakeholders. A city cannot tread the development path on the vision of another city – be it a vision of London or Singapore for that matter. Even to provide services like Singapore, vision and priorities should be of Nagpurkars. A foundation for this has been laid in today’s interaction. Once again, I thank Vijaybabu and Lokmat Group for help building this vision. Thanks!

Water and Waste Water Treatment

Vishvaraj Pvt Ltd did some research and realized 89% of the total available water of around 890 cubic meter goes into agriculture, of the balance 11% goes to industry and drinking water needs are met. We need better supervision of water. The coverage of piped water, the metering of water and the adequate supply of 24 hours of pressurized water these are the three steps. So to bring first to the equitable water, we need to design the system, invest capital into the infrastructure and more importantly have budgets to maintain it what we have already built.

Here’s what Mr. Arun Lakhani has to say: What is necessary is an integrated approach to water management, by integrated approach we need to see the complete water cycle as a whole. So we detect it from a source, then the treatment part then the distribution part then the customer service part. So if you have 24×7 in the distribution part that absolutely improves not only the water quality & drinking water but also saves water. Then comes the second very important part is the sewage treatment. Sewage treatment and the reuse of sewage treated water complete the cycle.

The important part of Nagpur 24×7 contract is that it is very inclusive model. It provides for a tap in every household, irrespective whether it is in the slum area or the flat schemes and the bungalow area. Second thing, it is the sovereign rights are with the Nagpur Muncipal Corporation, the rights of connection disconnection, the rights to decide tariff to be charged to people: citizens and the ownership of all the assets remains with the Nagpur Municipal Corporation.

This is a joint venture of (VIL India) Vishvaraj Environment Limited and Veolia Water France. It is a 50-50 joint venture with a joint management. They bring in the worldwide expertise and knowledge across the globe and their experience which is very critical. I would say in half a year of 2487 water scheme for the whole of city is going on, we are a part of PPP, we have invested our part of the amount into the project almost 500 kilometers of pipeline changed. Over 100 thousands house connections have been replaced. First it was to bring equitable water distribution, some of the areas were getting two hours water and some of the areas were getting alternate day, some of the areas were getting 6 hours day water. So in these three and half years we have brought them to a minimum level across the city. Now we are converting area by area into 24×7 water. So out of the population of 25 lakh people 10 lakh people have been touched with an improved service. Fourth P that is the largest stakeholders the people, unless they are on boarded   and unless they become  part of the program and not just the user of the program it will always be difficult because communicating to them making them understand the difficulty and the benefits both. And giving them the responsibility of monitoring as well as communicating to the larger people, larger masses are essential.

Smart Water Management by Arun Lakhani

The Chairman & Managing Director of Vishvaraj Infrastructure Limited – Arun Lakhani says “Currently, the industrial sector, which is one of the biggest consumers of water, is supplied fresh treated potable water. They can easily use waste water treated up to the secondary level. As much as 80% of the water being supplied to cities is right there. It only needs to be treated and supplied to industries. Good potable water that industries get can be swapped for residential and drinking purposes.”

With the understanding and sensitivity towards Indian culture, VIL India sees huge opportunities by improvising processes and effectively implementing the 4P model with the addition of a 4th P i.e. People —the citizens at large. In our opinion no industry model can be sustainable in the long run without benefiting and involving the chief stakeholder i.e. the people. Our insistence on benefits to all stakeholders, ability to structure the proposals accordingly, flexibility and management skills, sensitivity towards Indian culture resulted in the successful acquisition, assimilation and execution of various such projects. I foresee an extremely exciting future for VI L and can confidently state that we shall be the thought leaders in our chosen domain.

Nagpur’s smart water management also known as Nagpur 24×7 is an example for other cities across India. A special train carried around five lakh litres of water for parched Latur in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region in April this year. The first batch of 10 wagons, each with a capacity of around 50,000 litres, travelled a distance of around 350 kilometres to reach their destination where water was stored in a well located near the Latur railway station. While these steps are necessary, such measures might not have been required in the first place had these cities managed their water systems well. And with the smart cities list being announced, it’s time these cities took a smart look at their water management systems.

The first city to take the lead is Nagpur, Maharashtra. Now included in the smart cities list, it has a population of over 2.5 million people and is the first city of its size in the country to outsource water supply to a private operator under the PPP model for 25 years. Under the scheme the main objective was to provide 24-hour 100% safe drinking water to 100% population including slum dwellers within five years. The second objective was to reduce non-revenue water (50% water supplied to towns which is untraceable, not recorded and not paid for) to below 25% in 10 years. The project included management of the entire water cycle from production, treatment, transport, storage and delivery to the customer’s tap. It involved replacement of over three lakh house service connections, rehabilitation of treatment facilities, service reservoirs and pipelines.

The aim of the project was to address problems of water that was being wasted and not getting billed. The city was supplying 575 million litres per day (mld) of treated water of which only 175 mld was getting billed and paid for. Most meters were either non-existent or non functional. Also, the city was receiving water supply for eight to 10 hours or on alternate days. The tanker mafia added to the problem. On the sewage side, the city was generating 550 mld of sewage and had the capacity to treat only 100 mld. The remaining untreated sewage was polluting water bodies that supplied water to the city.