Hyderabad's water ATMs are real life savers, with a litre for just Re 1

Harshita gets down from the bus at Bowenpally bus stop. Wilting under the energy-sapping heat, she wipes her face and takes out an empty bottle from her bag. “This bus stop has a water ATM. I just have to spend Re.1 to fill my bottle with clean and chilled water,” says Harshita. Almost a year back, the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) had installed five Water ATMs in different parts of the city. The water ATMs at a cost of just Re 1 have come as a huge relief for people suffering from the scorching heat with Hyderabad reeling under heat wave like conditions. “Hardly anyone is buying water from the shops, my shop is right beside the Water ATM. Now people have been carrying bottles and filling cold water. We sell the bottle for Rs. 20 and this works out cheaper for the people. Sometimes there is rush in the ATM, people will be waiting to fill water,” says Raju, who owns a small stall near the Water ATM. According to SCB, there are five Water ATMs in Lal Bazaar, Tadbund, Balamrai, Bolarum and Bowenpally. However, the Bolaram machine in Risala Bazar has been out of order for some time, but will be restored soon. “The Water ATMs take water only from borewells, however, there is not much water in Risala Bazar’s borewell. After the monsoon, the ATM is expected to dispense water,” says Rajkumar, superintendent of SCB (Water Department). The SCB with the help of an NGO, Piramal Sarvajal, had installed the water ATMs and have plans to install five more in the city. Soon, the city will get water ATMs at Trimulgherry, Begumpet, Karkhana, Rasoolpura and Cantonment area. “The Water ATMs have been a success. Every day, the ATMs yield over Rs.900. Water is a basic need, and during summer, people spend hundreds of rupees to buy water whenever they travel. What about people who cannot afford a mineral water bottle? They tend to drink unhygienic or unpurified water. These water ATMs dispense water which everyone can afford,” says Rajkumar. According to the superintendent, the Water ATM does not waste water, but recycles it. “So the water is also used by people to wash their face or hands. In that case, the dirty water goes back to the borewell and gets recycled. The water purifier again purifies the water and dispenses clean water which is fit for drinking. In that way we are not wasting even a drop of water during this time of water shortage,” he added. The ATM has a storage capacity of over 60 litres. When the water gets over, it automatically fills the tank through a pipe connected to borewell. It takes just five minutes to fill the water and make it chilled for use. “This is one of the best initiatives in Hyderabad. No one should struggle to get some clean water. And this ATM has made that possible,” said M Jagannath, a resident of Bowenpally who frequently travels by bus for work. Water ATMs are already in operation in several cities across India, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh. Inspired by this, the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board had earlier decided to introduce Water ATMs in the city.