Water ATMs to shift to smart card mode


All drinking water ATMs will soon shift from coin-based service to smart card-based system.

The State Cabinet which met here on Thursday decided to outsource management of the ATMs to private agencies taluk-wise for ensuring round-the-clock availability of safe drinking water to people. Now, 600 to 800 ATMs remain out of order on any given day owing to technical glitches. There are 18,000 ATMs in the State and 16,000 of them are functional.

Poor maintenance

Owing to poor management of these water purifying units in rural areas, the State Cabinet decided to call tenders to outsource their management to private parties, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister Krishna Byre Gowda told reporters.

To move from coin-based service to smart card-based system, the RDPR would give a one-time grant of Rs 15,000 per unit to the agency which bags the contract through tender in each taluk. A sum of Rs 3,000 would be given to the agency for repairing the unit and for its maintenance. With expenditure overshooting the revenue in the management of the ATMs, the government would reimburse the difference by following a viability gap funding model to the agency for a five-year period. This would cost ₹233 crore for five years, the Minister said.

Lack of manpower

Defending the Cabinet decision on privatisation of management of water ATMs, Mr. Gowda said though it was the duty and responsibility of gram panchayats to maintain the units, they had no manpower to undertake maintenance and repairs owing to lack of technical know-how.

Moreover, the expenditure incurred for supplying a litre of drinking water was 35 paise, which was less when compared to the expenditure to be incurred. Currently, residents of Benglauru have been drawing 20 litres of water from the ATMs by dropping a Rs 5 coin. Introduction of smart card would solve the problem of coin shortage,  Gowda said.

In several places, the ATMs have not been functioning because people have tried to drop metal and other materials instead of coins. Use of smart cards would eliminate physical damage of ATMs, the Minister argued.

Tenders would be called taluk-wise to ensure quick repair and easy maintenance. Moreover, taluk-wise tenders would also generate jobs to locals, Gowda maintained.

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