Boats with other flood rescue equipment are being sent to meet any challenges which may arise due to the cyclonic storm ‘Nilofar’
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is geared up for rescue operations in the wake of the cyclonic storm ‘Nilofar’ in the Arabian Sea along the Gujarat coast. NDRF has alerted its three battalions situated at Vadodara (Gujarat), Pune (Maharashtra) and Bathinda (Punjab).
Five rescue and relief teams are pre-positioned at Gandhidam, Dwarka, Porbandar, Veeraval and Rajkot in Gujarat. Two teams are at Bhuj in Gujarat. NDRF teams are being deployed in vulnerable areas as proactive measures to mitigate the situation during cyclonic storm.
Apart from the seven teams, nine NDRF teams are on standby and awaiting deployment instructions. Boats with other flood rescue equipment are being sent to meet any challenges which may arise due to the cyclonic storm ‘Nilofar’.
The Met Department has already issued a warning and suggest that, “Fishermen out at sea along and off Gujarat coast should return to the coast. Total suspension of fishing operations. Coastal hutment dwellers to be moved to safer places. People in affected areas to remain indoors around landfall time.”
Fortunately, Nilofar does not seem as severe a storm as Hudhud, the Met said that, It would move north-northwestwards during next 12 hrs and then gradually recurve northeastwards and cross north Gujarat and adjoining Pakistan coast around Naliya by 01st November forenoon. However, as the system would come closer to Gujarat coast, it would weaken and cross the coast as a cyclonic storm.
This piece is not about water dispensing from ATMs instead of cash, but about how the Delhi Government has developed ‘water dispensing ATMs’
According to media reports, there are only about 2 lakh ATMs in the entire country, working under National Payments Corporation of India. And out of this small number, many are non- functional and when a card is inserted, air gets dispensed instead of cash.
People have started writing complaints with their fingers on the dusted faces of ATMs, even in cities like Mumbai. In all probability, CCTVs in ATMs would record their pictures and banks may soon start initiating action against the account-holders for misuse of ATMs. Is it correct to blame the customers for getting irritated when they are driven from ATM to ATM for cash? Every other day, we get to hear disturbing news about extra charges levied by banks for using ‘other-bank-ATMs’, over and above the permissible limit of 3 to 5 times. It is a widely known fact that there are no charges for use of debit cards in other countries. Since this is a debatable issue, I have smuggled this paragraph in this article, to draw the attention of ‘opinion makers’ on common man’s concerns. This piece, however, beginning from here, deals with the subject of Water ATMs, which I thought would generate interest only if this paragraph was included.
The concept of Water ATMs is a widely researched subject and some projects have already taken off, though in a limited sense. The idea was first broached to the Delhi government in 2012 by some entrepreneurs. As the adage goes, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ and it was acute shortage of potable water in the vicinity of certain residential areas that made the government support the project which would supply water through unmanned kiosks, now known as Water ATMs.
A report in The Indian Express sometime during 2012 read as under:
“The problem of water shortage in city slums could find an answer in 'pay-and-use' water ATMs scheme, which the Delhi government is studying at present.
According to the proposal, the water will be filtered at a centrally located plant through reverse osmosis, and supplied to a network of decentralised, "off-grid" and solar-powered ATMs that will be located in areas with low water supply.
"Potable water will be sold on prepaid smart cards, which can be used at the ATMs. It (water provided) will be on-demand, in customer chosen quantities and at a price lower than alternatives, including household filtration. Access to clean water on demand will improve public health, livelihoods and school attendance," the proposal states.
According to recent reports, a PPP (private-public sector partnership) effort in Delhi has started supplying water through ‘Sarvajal’ ATMs in remote Savdha Khevra, where families evacuated from Delhi slums on the eve of 2010 Olympic Games stay. This initiative of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, Delhi Water Board and Piramal is praiseworthy. Priced at 15 paise per litre (for colony residents- about 1200 litre of water per day is being ‘dispensed’), water here is much cheaper than the Rs15 per litre water we get from private suppliers.
I leave the cost-benefit analysis and ‘subsidy’ issues for readers to debate upon.
(MG Warrier is former General Manager, RBI, Mumbai and author of the 2014 book "Banking, Reforms & Corruption: Development Issues in 21st Century India")