City all set to get more water ATMs

The network of innovative water ATMs is likely to spread in the coming days with Dwarka sub-city billed to get three smart card-run water dispensing units.

The solar powered water dispensing units will be modelled on similar ATMs in Savdha Ghevra resettlement colony of north-west Delhi which are giving filtered water to thousands of people for Rs 6 for 20 litres.

According to Delhi Jal Board officials, around 10 new ATMs are likely to come up in the next three months, gradually expanding the network which is aimed to be raised to 500 ATMs by March 31.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely had announced in Delhi budget that areas facing water shortage will get ATMs. He had unveiled a plan to have 500 such ATMs. The proposal on ATMs is part of the Rs 1,249 crore package announced  for water supply in the city .

As part of an exercise to assess the gains from such facilities, experts recently studied the functioning of water ATMs and treatment plant in Savdha Ghevra, a 250 acres resettlement colony near Ghevra railway station on Delhi-Rohtak rail route.

The colony is divided into several blocks and is home to nearly 30,000 people. The inhabitants have regular access to electricity but not to water till the ATMs were installed.
The study of the ATMs and decentralised water treatment plant in the colony was part of an event on Innovations in Urban Water Services organised by global think tank Development Alternatives.

K Vijaylakshmi from Development Alternatives said: “What we saw from the two models was that while NGOs and funding agencies are trying innovative models to ensure access to safe water in difficult conditions, the journey will not be complete  without full involvement of government.”

The event was attended by representatives from Central Pollution Control Board, Central Ground Water Board, Delhi Jal Board, World Bank, INTACH as well as NGOs including Center for Science and Environment, Sarvajal and Gramvikas.

Development Alternatives chairman Ashok Khosla said: “Development in urban India is constrained by the poor cumulative quality of its urban infrastructure. Rapidly urbanising cities are struggling to finance, maintain existing services and add new infrastructure. This is compounded by urbanisation rates that are too fast for existing systems.”

The 14 water ATMs in Sadvha Ghevra serve one residential block each. A decentralised water treatment plant has been installed which purifies water through reverse osmosis.

Like any usual ATM, the customer swipes a prepaid card called Sarvajal Smart Cards and the dispenser’s screen flashes the chosen amount for which the user wishes to collect water. A main server keeps record of the user’s transactions and deducts the amount from the prepaid card.

Managed by women, the local water treatment plant in Savdha Ghevra generate income for poor women, apart from making water safe and leading to better health and productivity in the area. Linking toilets to decentralised wastewater treatment systems (DEWATs), has helped generate water for recycling, housing construction and household use.

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