TIRUPUR: Four water ATMs have been installed at various places in Kangeyam by the municipality. The ATMs would dispense reserve osmosis-cum-ultraviolet-treated water for 35 paise to Re 1 per litre. Water ATMs in the Kangeyam municipality were not alternative to the existing water distribution system but an additional support to the people to access treated water.
An Erode-based private company has bagged contracts to install 63 water ATMs in each ward of Kangeyam, Vellakoil and Dharapuram municipalities in Tirupur district. So far, four water ATMs have been installed in Kangeyam, and three each in the other two municipalities. “The project is a public-private partnership (PPP) model, for which the municipalities would provide land and water. We will install the water ATMs, which would cost Rs18 lakh per unit, and treat the water supplied by the civic bodies, and sell the water. With the BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) contract, we will build and operate them for 10 years before handing over the ATMs to the local administrations,” RMK Venil Raj, one of the managing partners of the private company, told TOI. “Anyone can draw a litre of the protected water by inserting a one-rupee coin. We are providing smart cards to locals, so that they can become a member. They can swipe the smart cards and collect water at a cost of Rs 7 per 20 litre.
They should pay Rs 200 to get the card, and a top up of Rs 140 would be provided with it. As per the contract, we should provide 1 rupee per 20 litres to the local administration,” Venil added. M Chinnasamy, 70, who is involved in pressing clothes business on Perumal Koil Street in Kangeyam, said “During earlier decades, Kangeyam has faced severe water shortage and the situation has improved after implementation of Cauvery and Amaravathi water schemes in the town. But still, we could receive drinking water once in 10 to fifteen days. The people here started to use the water ATMs, which are needed now.” KT Arun, another resident, said, “The Kangeyam municipality would soon start to charge Rs 140 as water tax for supplying potable water. Many people were buying packaged drinking water at Rs 25-30 per 20 litre. But the water ATMs provide the same quantity at Rs 7.” An official associated with the Kangeyam municipality said “We wanted to ensure that the end-user would get the protected water at cheaper rates. But we will monitor in a way that the people would not draw the water from the ATMs and sell it.”
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