You could soon get water from ‘water ATMs’ at a minimal cost at public spots across Mumbai. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Praveen Pardeshi has ordered all ward officials to identify five spots — slums, hawker zones, tourist spots, gardens, malls, etc — where water vending machines can be set up to provide clean drinking water to citizens.

This is the first time that the BMC is mulling the idea of water vending machines in public places. Officials of the civic body said citizens will have to pay a minimal cost for getting water from the ATMs. “The prices have not been decided yet, but it will be fixed along the lines of the Railways’ water vending machines initiative. We are not looking at this project from a revenue point of view,” said an official.

The administration is currently awaiting a nod from its legal department to figure out the modalities for implementing the move. The BMC will then decide on the number of spots and float tenders to procure these machines. “We are studying the format that Indian Railways followed wherein these machines have been installed at stations,” said another official.

The water to be provided to these machines will be supplied by the BMC. “Each ward will have a collection point wherein required amount of water will be sent to the spots where the ATMs are installed,” said the official.

Experts have, however, pointed out that the initiative is yet another move for contractors to earn revenue. Sitaram Shelar, convener of Pani Haq Samiti, said, “There were around 2,500 pyaus [water drinking facilities] across the city that were shut by the BMC more than a decade ago citing leakages and hygiene issues. Now, the BMC wants to bring a similar concept and charge citizens to pay for something that was available for free. Also, while the BMC wants to install water vending machines, there are nearly 1,000 water supply connections that have not been approved yet.”

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 14:34 IST