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Hyderabad's new water ATMs will soon dispense a litre of chilled water for Rs 1

Think Change India
24th Feb 2016
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Chilled potable water will be sold through kiosks in Hyderabad. This has been modelled on the lines of cash-dispensing automated teller machines (ATMs) of banks. A proposal to this effect was mooted by Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) Managing Director B Janardhan Reddy during a review meeting in the city on Monday. The water board chief directed officials to work out the proposal of installing water ATMs, wherein pedestrians could get a litre of chilled water for Rs 1.

Representational Image, Source- Indian Express
Representational Image, Source- Indian Express

In another move, the water board has decided to draft women self-help groups (SHGs) for collecting water dues from defaulters, create awareness among people on conservation of water and monitor delivery of free tankers. The MD also stressed on the need for conservation of water as the HMWS&SB was bringing water from afar-Nagarjunasagar (110 km) and Yellampally (186 km)-to Hyderabad.

In view of the depleting groundwater in the city, an official stated that 1,000 rain water harvesting structures would be put in place during the 100-day action plan. The water board chief has directed the officials to change water connections of lodges, hotels, hostels and other commercial establishments from domestic to commercial immediately. “If officials fail to do so, then action will be initiated against the erring employees,” the MD said.

The water board would start the crackdown from Sanjeevareddy Nagar, officials told The Times Of India.

In 2015, in Borze, a tiny village in the water-starved Pen taluka of Raigad district, Maharashtra, stopped waiting for the state government and their local politician to give them much-needed clean water. Instead, the villagers tied up with a private company to set up an innovative water ATM that locals refer to as ATW, or any time water.

This is the first time in the district that a local gram panchayat has set up such a hi-tech gizmo and also distributed more than 400 electromagnetic ATW cards, which look like regular ATM swipe cards, used to get 20 litres of water for just Rs 10.

Malti Thakur, an elderly village woman who has never before used a regular ATM card to get cash, now proudly displays her ATW as she enthusiastically watches the dispenser pour out 20 litres of potable water. “Earlier, the government supply of tap water was erratic and mostly bad, leading to various diseases. Over the years, even the rainfall has reduced and is rather unseasonal due to this ‘pariyavaran gondhal’ (environmental problems),” she said, matter of factly.

Mahendra Thakur, the newly elected village sarpanch, himself a civil engineer who proposed the water ATM, told The Times Of India, “As we are all experiencing the effects of global warming in some way or the other, I felt that a technological solution was required to take care of the severe water shortage here. So, we started scouting for private companies to set up a water purification plant next to the village pond.”

“Considering the popularity of this ATW, we are thinking of issuing more of the ATM cards to the villagers. Also, 20 per cent of the revenue earned by the water company will be given back to the gram panchayat for other developmental works. So, this project is good for the private company as well as the villagers,” said Mahendra.

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