Professional project management approach can be the solution to sluggish implementation of urban water development and management, say V Nagadevara and TV Ramanayya.Demographers have estimated that urban population in India is estimated to reach 600 million by 2031.The 11th Five Year Plan data indicates that the contribution of GDP in percentage terms from urban areas in India increased from 51.7 in 1999-2000 to about 61.2 in 2009-10.The delivery of urban services, however, is far from satisfactory, and urban water infrastructure is no exception.Urban water infrastructure mainly consists of three components: Supply of drinkable water, sewage collection and treatment and full coverage of urban areas with adequate storm water drains.The Ministry of Urban Development has fixed that in all urban areas irrespective of size the following norms are to be met:• 100 per cent individual piped water supply for all houses•Continuous 24x7 supply •Consumption of 135 litres per capita per day (lpcd).It is a fact that not even a single city in India fulfills the above criteria.It is therefore essential that plans should translate into well-defined projects with goals set to be achieved within specified time periods.The different projects in the area of water supply can be classified as:1.Estimation of demand and scouting for sources near the city (for all urban areas)2.Infrastructure needs in terms of pipelines, water tanks, and treatment plants3.Supplying water 24x7 to all houses and making sure that economically weaker sections consume required water as per the norm through appropriate pricing mechanisms.The investment needed for satisfactory water supply to the 32 crore population in the urban areas is Rs 53,666 crore.The urban sewage and water treatment activities have to go hand in hand with the water supply activities.The corresponding estimated investment in sewerage and water treatment for the urban areas is Rs 53,168 crore and for urban drainage is Rs 20,173 crore.Under the present economic conditions, it is extremely difficult to mobilise such large sums of money through budgetary allocations.On the other hand, it is a well known fact that private participation in urban water supply can yield better results in terms of efficient utilisation of the water resources. In other words, the issues in urban water supply needs to be tackled through public-private-partnership (PPP) model.The PPP model calls for private investment in the urban water supply with the state and central governments pitching in through viability gap funding.It also calls for efficient management of the investments and timely completion of these projects.There is a need to apply systematic project management techniques in order to achieve this.In order to manage such large investments in the urban water sector, it is imperative that we need to adopt a project-based approach.For this investment to be effective, a tight time schedule with corresponding objectives need to be delineated. The specific timelines and the objectives need to be quantified at the level of each state and then further sub-divided into each urban area within the state.Each of these can be considered as a separate project in itself, with the implementation and monitoring responsibilities given to the concerned implementation body. The implementation body will have to have representation of both the public and private partners.This body will monitor the utilisation of the funds as well as the implementation schedules using project management techniques such as PERT/CPM. Some of the areas which could be considered as potential private participation projects are:•Preparation of pre-feasibility project reports for water supply systems for cities of different population sizes •Planning and implementation distribution•Designing and managing water purification and sewerage plants.Project-driven implementation with defined time and task schedules is the only way that the water infrastructure in urban areas can be addressed in India.Nagadevara is Professor at IIM-Bangalore and a recipient of the PMI India Distinguished Scholar Award, and Ramanayya is Professor (Retd), IIM Bangalore, and ex-Member of PMI India Academic Advisory Group.