IWA Publishing

Non-revenue water and cost recovery in urban India: the case of Bangalore

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This paper examines the issue of non-revenue water (NRW) in urban India, taking the city of Bangalore as a case study. Using empirical evidence from a survey conducted among 601 low-income households in Bangalore, we investigate the major sources of NRW for water utilities and propose policy recommendations based on the analysis. Our key finding is that public stand posts and public wells, which supply free water, are a non-trivial source of NRW. In addition, we find that revenue generation from metered tap connections is sub-optimal. Further, we observe potential revenue being shifted away from the public water utilities toward private providers, as several households pay for water obtained from neighbours, tankers, or other private sources. Drawing upon our findings, we propose a new tariff structure for urban water utilities to consider. We also review the implementation of pre-payment metering for public stand posts in other developing countries and its feasibility in Bangalore.

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