Purbachal’s water supply to be under private sector
Water supply in the Purbachal New Town in the outskirts of Dhaka would be provided by a private sector player, in a development that can be viewed as the government opening up the country’s utility services.
In Bangladesh, public entities run structured water supply management under city corporations.
Neighbouring India uses public-private partnerships for water supply management in urban areas under a National Water Policy 2002.
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) is implementing the 6,227-acre project, which sits between Kaliganj and Rupganj with the Shitalakkhya river to the east and the Balu to the west. It is scheduled to have 25,016 residential plots, 1,033 commercial plots and 3,565 other plots, all at a cost of Tk 7,782 crore.
Under the new arrangement, a private consortium comprising United Water (Suqian) Company of China and Delcot Water of Bangladesh will lay out a distribution network of about 320 kilometres along the roads reaching every plot.
They will also install 15 deep tube wells to extract groundwater, all within four years in four phases.
The facilities are expected to be ready by the end of 2023, with Rajuk bearing Tk 299.80 crore of the Tk 592.39 crore cost. The consortium will foot the remaining Tk 292.39 crore.
The billing rate will be decided in consultation with Rajuk. The consortium will run the supply for 11 years to recover their investment and make a profit before handing over the responsibilities.
Meanwhile, Rajuk will provide Tk 56 crore in maintenance cost every year.
Rajuk will issue a notice on February 11 for the consortium to start work, Saber Ahmed, director of the water supply project, told The Daily Star. He expects the Purbachal project to be complete by early 2024.
Traditionally, water and sewerage projects have been implemented on the basis of public procurement, said Muhammad Alkama Siddiqui, chief executive officer of Public Private Partnership Authority.
This Purbachal water management project is an attempt by the government to access private sector expertise for efficiency alongside private financing, he said.
He hopes affluent people would come to reside in the Purbachal township and they would demand uninterrupted water supply through private management.
“Commercial operation under private management is always up to date and of low cost,” said Siddiqui, adding that the government has also kept options for providing subsidies if the billing cost exceeds those in other cities.