NTADCL : A Water Revolution or A Blow to Sustainable Water Management?

The New Tirupur Area Development Corporation Limited (NTADCL) is the first public private partnership, set up in 1995 primarily to supply industrial water to Tirupur, a major export centre for knitwear, in India. This water supply and sewerage project is also the first project to be structured on a commercial format; first concession by a state government to a public limited company to draw raw water for domestic and industrial uses and to collect revenues; the first index-based user charges and direct cost recovery for urban environmental services.  Said to "herald a water revolution" in India, it is also the first
water project backed by IFC in India. This BOOT experiment, which began functioning in 2005, is responsible for transmission, treatment of water supply, distribution of water to industries and the municipality for domestic consumption, and treatment of the collected sewage, and maintenance of the sewage treatment plants.

However, NTADCL's water supply scheme typifies an incongruity in water resource management and prioritization. Pollution caused due to industrial waste continues to plague Tirupur, even as state of the art technology is being installed to extract and transport from distant sources, clean water for the textile industry. This case study highlights that the scheme, in effect, has a direct bearing on the efforts to ensure recycling of waste water and 'zero effluents discharge' and in turn, the broader agenda of sustainable water management and conservation. It must be noted that though the bulk of the water supplied under this project is for industrial purposes, the scheme also supplies water for domestic use to limited urban and rural populace. Further, this case study seeks to examine the functioning of the water supply scheme - both domestic and industrial, and the new and emerging legal arrangements in promoting public-private partnerships, in the water sector.