ALAPPUZHA: As the state reels under an acute drinking water shortage, Muthukulam block panchayat in the district has come up with an innovative solution. It has set up four water ATMs to quench the thirst of people living in coastal panchayats. According to Muthukulam block panchayat president Bipin C Babu, a visit to Qutub Minar in Delhi sparked the idea of setting up a drinking water dispensing unit.
“When we visited Delhi last year, we saw a drinking water dispensing unit near Qutub Minar. I discussed the matter with other block members and we decided to set up a water ATM, which dispenses water when you feed a coin. We developed the water ATM with the assistance of a company that builds reverse osmosis plants. We also developed a prepaid swiping card. If the customer feeds a Rs 2 coin, he/she will get five litres. Card-holders can swipe and take as much water as they wish. The card can be recharged by multiples of `10,” said Babu.
“We have fixed the price at 40 paise per litre of water, while other sellers are charging Rs 1-2 per litre. It is a relief for people living in coastal areas such as Kandalloor, Devikulangara, Chingoli and Arattupuzha,” he said. “The first smart water ATM was set up at Mangalam in Edakkad last week. We are waiting for the Minister of Water Resources to officially inaugurate it,” he said.
“A special arrangement has made for distributing drinking water to children. We have given smart cards to all kids. When they need drinking water, they can swipe the card and they will get 200 ml water for drinking,” he said. The cost of setting up one unit is Rs 7.4 lakh. Water taken from a tubewell is distributed after a five-step filtration. Around 1,000 litres can be purified in an hour. More water ATMs will be set up in the next phase, said Babu.“We used to pay Rs 50-60 for 20 litres of water,” said Soman, a native of Chingoli.“Now, we have to pay just `8. It is a big relief for people living in coastal areas.”