Indian cities get more water ATMs

NEW DELHI: The New Town Kolkata Development Authority recently install eda second water ATM in Eco Park. The first ATM was set up by the state public health engineering department and the second water ATM has been sponsored by a private company as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity. One can get a litre of chilled pure drinking water by inserting a 2 rupee coin at the ATM counter. Bottles or glasses have to be brought in.

The initiative of installing these ATMs has so far been extremely successful and is being adopted by more and more state governments. Municipal Corporation of Delhi is the most recent municipal corporation to have implemented the idea of installing water ATMs. The North and East Municipal Corporations will be installing close to 200 water ATMs throughout their areas of jurisdiction. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation started this project in June itself and has received overwhelming response for the same.

In Assam too, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated the first water ATM in May this year. According to the Chief Minister, people will now be able to avail the facility of safe drinking water which meets the standards of World Health Organisation.

Similarly in a small village called Rahera near Greater Noida in NCT Delhi, the lives of villagers have been transformed by one of these water ATMs. The idea, however, belongs to twenty eight-year-old Rahul Sharma.  He, in collaboration with Safe Water Network-an NGO working towards providing safe water to all, installed the Water ATM in 2015. It now serves 250 families. However, Rahul now aims to provide the entire population of the village with clean, potable water.

The biggest role in installing water ATMs has been played by Tata Trusts, a philanthropic organisation. The Trusts, through its water initiatives, has touched 4 million people as of now, and intends to reach 12-15 million in the next three years. “The 10 states we are working now are mostly underserved. So, we are trying to enhance our footprint within these states,” Divyang Waghela, Head-TWM at Tata Trusts, said adding the firm intends to venture into Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. At present, TWM covers about 4,000 villages in the country. TWM, which has already installed 75 water ATMs (50 in Bengaluru and North Karnataka and 25 in Delhi), is doing a feasibility study to install these across Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 2016, Tata Trusts had partnered with Jaldhaara Foundation to set up water ATMs that dispense drinking water in urban slums.

The initiative has therefore gained some momentum over the years while achieving tremendous heights.

The Water ATM is in essence a modular Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) controlled standalone water dispensing unit. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. It is very simple to use, and like any usual ATM, the customer swipes a prepaid card on the screen and chooses the amount of water one wishes to dispense.

The RFID device sends a GPRS message to the managing organization’s server which authorizes the transaction instantly. This server keeps a record of the user’s transaction and deducts the amount used on the card.

The plant works on a reverse osmosis and UV based filtration technology. The water is filtered through 5 stages and the quality is in accordance with the international drinking water quality standard, IS 10500. Two patents for this technological innovation have been filed – one for the RFID based remote sensing & quality control and the second for the ATM dispensing system.

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