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Kiosks Providing Safe Drinking Water
More than 25 million people in India lack access to safe drinking water, leading to 1,600 daily deaths caused by diarrhea
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Heena is just an eleven year old girl living in a water deficient area of Rajasthan which is called as Chaksu block in Jaipur. She is happy now-a-days as the water tastes much better, she hardly falls ill and her studies are going well. The only change in her life is the availability of safe drinking water from the "ATM" nearby her school.
Right, the ATM which instead of dispensing cash, gives clean drinking water. The kiosk format, solar powered and cloud connected water ATMs, are installed by healthcare giant Piramal, which runs social enterprise Piramal Sarvajal. Auto giant Maruti Suzuki is also installing water ATMs at several other locations.
To arrange things in perspective, more than 25 million people in India lack access to safe drinking water leading to 1,600 deaths daily (due to acute diarrhea). The personal loss is one, however, the economy suffers annual loss of Rs 36 crore annually due to health burden. Meanwhile, Indian rural women waste 700 hours annually collecting water.
These water ATMs have a capacity to dispense up to 15,000 litres per day. Dispensing drinking water in quantities such as 250 ml and 1 litre at Re 1 per litre on a refill basis, the objective is to encourage people to take away larger quantities for the consumption of their families. The machine follows seven-stage water purification process.
Each water ATM requires an investment of about Rs 10 lakh which includes cost of equipment, taxes and installation costs. Many start- ups, NGOs are also considering introducing pre-paid cards.
Experts claim, it is a need that has been neglected by the government. But it has given way to innovative initiatives to provide the populace clean and fresh drinking water. Also, there lies a business opportunity for water-rich countries According to EA Water, the water sector is expected to witness investment of $13. billion from overseas players in the coming a few years. Business community from Canada, Israel, Germany, United States, China and Italy see huge investment opportunity in the domestic water sector.
Fortune 100 software-industrial company Honeywell India has established water ATM in partnership with Safe Water Network to provide safe water to people in Telangana. Company will charge Rs 5 per 20 litre of water. According to Ravi Sewak, country director of not-for-profit organization, SWN, India, “The next step is to move towards digital payments, enabling cashless transactions at the water stations. To begin with, we have collaborated with Medak District to conduct awareness workshops on the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) mobile app.”
Studies by UNICEF and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) show that 45 per cent of India’s children are stunted and 6,00,000 children under the age of five die each year, largely because of inadequate water supply and poor sanitation.