17 February, 2017
News Credit : The Times of India
Bottled water is quite expensive and therefore out of reach for the common people who only afford it on occasions like while travelling or for health reasons. However, with a unique initiative from the Rajasthan government, people even the poorest ones, may soon get a litre of chilled mineral water for just Re 1 which could bring summer respite. Inspired by the success of Mineral Water ATMs in Udaipur, the state government may give a nod for installing such ATMs across the state. The unique PPP mode of bringing safe affordable drinking water to masses would be first of its kind anywhere in India. The aim is to set up 2,000 ATMs in two years. "We have received a proposal and it is under consideration," Dr. Manjit Singh, principal secretary DLB told TOI.
The project was launched in Udaipur city in July 2015 by collector Rohit Gupta, Rotary Mewar Service Trust in association with IField Energy Private Limited and the Vedanta group. Presently, there are 10 ATMs functioning at public places here like the RNT medical college, Savina vegetable market, Sajjangarh biological park etc. On any typical day, one may see a queue outside these ATMs to procure pure mineral water. Chief minister Vasundhara Raje had appreciated the model during one of her visits and suggested adopting the model at a larger scale. Presently, the government is also working to attach water kiosks with Annapurna mobile kitchens.
Rotary Mewar has proposed to take it up at state level. "We have proposed to install 2000 units of water kiosks, if the department of Urban Development and Housing (UDH) and local bodies identify critical need areas and provide us space, electricity and water supply for the units. We and our associates would install and maintain the units for 5 years," Hansraj Choudhary, the project initiator and chairman Rotary Mewar Trust told TOI.
The private players have expressed willingness to invest a sum of Rs 140 crores in the project which would be raised through CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds and NRI investors.
"Electricity cost would be borne by the operational revenue. The water kiosks would prove economical in the long run as it requires a very small space and thus fit easily in any concentrated community area," Akshay Bhargava, founder director of IField Energy said. The company has set up over 450 units across India including Rajasthan, Telangana, Gujarat and Haryana. Meanwhile, the project approval is awaited.
Through these ATMs, pure water would reach thousands of families. A machine can produce upto 12000 liters of pure water per day. The buyers would bring their own containers to collect water, hence no plastic waste would be generated. The units would be self sustainable, generate own income to empower local operator, pay for its own expenses without further aid and create employment opportunities. The waste water would be reused for irrigation and sanitation.
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