It has been seen throughout history that people get attracted towards the fast-paced life of cities where they all can lead a unique life and develop skills and technique in a range of fields. When people come together, opportunities, ideas and wealth seem to grow exponentially giving rise to the global phenomenon of rapid urbanization. In nations like India this ongoing urbanization is the driving force behind economic growth, knowledge dissemination and employment generation.Amidst this large-scale development which improve the well-being of societies, the city infrastructure is burdened with extraordinary levels of population growth which leads to many public and environmental concerns. Rapid urbanization is directly linked to unplanned growth, expansion of slums, unsanitary conditions, congested roads, poor condition of public transport etc.
Despite the development of policies, standards and guidelines for provision of basic urban services, the urban local bodies encounter problems in implementation and commissioning due to poorly staffed municipalities, lack of funding and accountability among the decision-making authorities. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy that can be applied to ensure positive outcomes of planning and proposals. We must consider factors such as the size of urban concentration, source of urbanization and long term and short-term goals of development.
Most of the sanitation infrastructure is operating below Indian standards due to lack of financial resources in maintenance of such assets. Therefore, there is a need for the national and local government to make comprehensive financial assessment of cities during its planning and make proposals according to the capacity of the city.
The municipalities must analyze the cost and benefit ratios of the proposed development and prepare strategic framework of cost recovery that involves the public to ensure financial sustainability. The capital investment required for the implementation of proposed development can be sourced from National and State level grants and/or CSR grants, but additional amount required for maintaining the services must be sourced from local tax and other revenue generated from the city itself.
Following factors must be considered before making financial strategies of a city
Analysis of existing infrastructure and level of service: for examples there may be some cities which has more than 90% underground sewage connections which only needs to invest on fulfilling social and environment concerns such as post treatment of wastewater. There might be some cities which are still struggling to provide access to toilets and there might be some cities with extensive waste management infrastructure but needs to invest on repairs and maintenance only.
Cost of the proposed development and affordability: The proposed cost must be affordable to both the government and the citizens and when the civil body is involved, extensive survey and IEC activities are involved to make people realize the benefits of such developments.
Sources of funds: India relies heavily on national and state level funds. The aim should be to cover at least operations and maintenance cost through user charges and taxes.
Governance and Institutional framework: A framework that clearly states the roles and responsibilities of public, private and civil society. A sustainable sanitation management plan needs technology, human resources, a highly skilled management team and the scope of innovation and experimentations.
PPP in Sanitation
PPP as a financing option should always be considered as a supplement to urban local bodies in terms of higher skills, efficiency, capacity etc. PPP should be used only for subset activities where the resources of municipalities fall inadequate. In certain cases, a fully public service might work more efficiently then a multi-stakeholder privately operated service.
Inadequate sanitation is a national cause and no single initiative can make a significant difference. It requires coordination among policy makers, engineers, private investors, NGOs and civil body to jointly address the complexities and implement inclusive sanitation plans.