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water ATMs come to Bengaluru city

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BENGALURU 8 NOV 2014: A network of innovative water ATMs is all set to make a splash in Bengaluru. With significant groundwater depletion and contamination over the years, these ATMs could bring respite to citizens reeling under water scarcity.

Known locally as water ATMs, the dispensers use pre-paid smart cards, allowing people to fill containers up to 20 litres for Rs 5 only. Similar units have proved to be a big success in Bangalore Rural, which is perennially plagued by water shortage.

This time, state agencies BBMP or BWSSB are not in the picture. Instead, the scheme is being piloted by local legislators cutting across party lines. To set up these plants, legislators are using their area development funds and roping in private investors.

As a first step, around 10 new ATMs are likely to come up in the city’s periphery under Mahadevapura constituency that boasts of big-ticket IT industries.

“I have decided to get 200 water ATMs installed across the 34 wards of my constituency. We have already roped in a few sponsors; a part of the MLA fund will also be utilized,” said former minister and Mahadevapura legislator Aravind Limbavalli.

Though Cauvery water caters to large parts of Bengaluru, hundreds of slums and villages in the city’s fringes still don’t have access to clean and affordable drinking water. The water ATMs will be connected to public borewells certified unfit for drinking by BBMP, with a decentralized treatment plant to purify water through reverse osmosis.

Much like how an ATM works, a customer swipes a prepaid card, following which 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 self-help groups, these ATMs, apart from dispensing safe drinking water, also generate income for the poor.” I am impressed that legislators are trying innovative models to ensure access to safe water in difficult conditions. But the journey won’t be complete without total involvement of civic agencies and the government,” said S M Savitha, a research associate on water governance.

HOW IT WORKS

* Water ATMs are installed in borewells with very low levels of water considered unfit for drinking

* Water passes through a treatment plant during which ultra-filtration, nano-filtration and ozonization happens, making it safe for drinking

* Once water starts flowing into the storage unit, people can collect it by swiping cards as per their requirements

* The treatment plant can treat 4,000 litres of water in an hour and provide 24 x7 supply

* Each ATM costs anywhere between Rs 5-12 lakh depending on the brand, output, solar power, etc.
source: The Times Of India

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