This study assesses the efficiency of the urban water supply system in 27 selected Indian cities. It applies data envelopment analysis (DEA) as an analytical tool to measure technical efficiency. Cities are categorized into different groups according to the management structure of their water utilities. The results show that within groups, the utilities that are managed by ‘municipal corporations (MCs) and parastatals', with a certain amount of functional autonomy, perform better in comparison to the group ‘MCs and government’ and thus, strengthen the hypothesis that functional autonomy in management leads to better performance of the water utilities. Moreover, the results also have implications for urban domestic water pricing. We find that most water utilities are operating under decreasing returns to scale (DRS), implying that water should be priced at a marginal cost of supply.

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