A 1995 batch Indian Administrative Service officer, Keshav Chandra became CEO of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in October 2015. During his career, Chandra has served in various parts of country, from Arunachal Pradesh to Goa.
Prior to his current position, he has held various charges in the power and housing departments as well as in the Chief Electoral Office in the Goa government. Here, he was also in charge of an international sports event – the Lusofonia Games. In the past, he has also served as secretary to the chief minister of Delhi for a period of five years, as well as secretary, New Delhi Municipal Council, and commissioner, excise, Delhi.
Commenting upon the targets before him, Chandra says, “DJB is the second largest utility in the world, catering to a population of over 18 million. As the city has grown organically over the years, in which unplanned growth has negated the impact of infrastructure development in the planned area, the target would be to retrofit unplanned areas seamlessly, so as to provide smooth and efficient services.”
Assessing the challenges faced by DJB, Chandra says that one of the biggest challenges is to establish a fundamental mechanism for water supply systems, as haphazard growth has compromised hydraulics. Creation of district metering areas is the first and foremost challenge before the utility. This would lead to a reduction in both apparent and real losses. Moreover, as the availability of water is unlikely to increase in the near future, reducing losses is the only way to meet the needs of the ever-increasing population.
With regard to the wastewater sector, Chandra says, “The challenge is to position this sector in the urban planning realm so that the contamination of waterbodies is not only reversed but they are restored as sources of clean water. A comprehensive plan, encompassing all flowing waterbodies along with the Yamuna, needs to be carefully prepared to plug the gaps which have caused pollution in all waterbodies of the city.”
Chandra believes that a growing city of this proportion requires the adoption of innovative technology and new management techniques to overcome challenges. He feels that constant updating of knowledge coupled with vibrant innovation and learning could be a source of strength for the utility in the near future.
Chandra has a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics. His leisure activites are painting, photography and reading.