This RTI is a powerful tool to expose major policy decisions. Recently a major breakthrough happened with effort in Delhi to privatize water supply in the city.

Apparently, this was a proposed World Bank funded effort. The proposal was on since the mid nineties in complete secrecy. However, some news leaked out in to the press, and an RTI petition was filed asking for the files on this process.

At first there was a lot of resistance, but finally the files were made public, and the story was shocking. Apparently, the World Bank was arm twisting and almost dictating policy to the government. The process of privatization (or any government work) takes place with bids by bidding companies. There is a two layered process, where first in this case the top six companies would be selected, and then in the second round, the best among them would be selected. Here, in the first round, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, the well known consulting firm, had a bid that came in tenth. By law, they should have been eliminated. But the world bank insisted that PWC be considered. At first the government protested, but with continuous pressure relented, and declared PWC to be selected in the top six by declaring it to be an Indian company! In the next round, again PWC fared badly, with only a 67% score, and a terrible proposal. Again the world bank pressurized the government (by asking it to remove the people who evaluated the proposal), and forced the government to declare the PWC bid as the winner. Again, the government capitulated to pressure.

It wasn’t just this, but the entire process of water privatization in this proposal was rather absurd, and would have affected millions of people adversely.

Bowing to public pressure (after the dealings were revealed due to the RTI petition), the government scrapped the project completely.