Public-private partnerships (PPP) are an important governance strategy that has recently emerged as a solution to enhance the access of marginalised residents to urban infrastructures.
With the inception of neoliberal economic reforms in India, in Indian cities too PPP has emerged as an innovative approach to expand coverage of water supply and sanitation infrastructures.
However, there has been little study of the dynamics of partnership efforts in different urban contexts: What role do they play in transforming existing infrastructure regimes? Do reform strategies such as partnerships result in increased privatisation or do they make the governance of infrastructures more participative?
Reviewing some of the recent literature on urban political analysis, this article develops the concept of water supply regime to describe the context of water provision in three metropolitan cities in India. To further our understanding of the role of PPP within regimes, this article sketches five cases of water supply and sanitation partnerships located within these three metropolitan cities.
From these empirical studies, the article arrives at the conclusion that while PPP are always products of the regime-context they are inserted within, quite often strategic actors in the partnership use the PPP to further their interests by initiating a shift in the regime pathway. This leads us to conclude that PPPs do play a role in making water supply regimes more participative but that depends on the nature of the regime as well as the actions of partners.