Ilkal in the southern Indian state of Karnataka is the first town in the country to receive clean water 24/7 over its entire territory thanks to an innovative water supply project involving the private sector.

The town is famous for its handloom saree weaving industry. But in the past, artisans were forced to spend more time fetching water from wells and rivers than weaving fabric for the renowned garments. Today, water is available around the clock and weavers are free to do their work, putting new life into an ancient trade.


Ilkal, India - Water has always been a problem for the people of Ilkal in the state of Karnataka, Southern India.

“The situation before, it was horrible. We would get tap water once in a week. For almost 6 months, we would not to get any water,” Principal Asha S. Mathada of SVM High School says.

“The only supply was from the municipality tankers. They used to send water once a day to an area where we were made to wait, taking pots and all sorts of containers with us in a queue. If we wanted water, we had to go to the wells, where we had to pump it ourselves.”

Once it was gathered, the water was not clean.

Health problems were common among locals.

“Water used to be contaminated. So many diseases used to spread, water-borne diseases used to happen,” adds Shivaand Kapashi, Executive Director.

The lack of water also hit the local economy.

Ilkal is famous for its handloom saree weaving industry.

But as the water situation worsened, weavers spent more time fetching water than producing sarees.

In 2013, the government turned to the private sector to deliver sustainable water supply services to the town.

With financial and technical support from the Asian Development Bank, a private firm was selected to build, operate, and maintain the town’s water supply system.

State-of-the-art technology was introduced to run the reservoir and the distribution, and billing and collection system.

Ilkal became the first town in India with 24/7 clean water supply available over its entire territory.

Clean water on tap means that children are healthy and in school.

It means that people can spend their time productively.

It also means that the weavers of Ilkal are again at work, reviving an ancient trade.