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")
With the Premier Nguyen Dung leading a fifty member trade delegation to India, one can expect improved relations between the two.
Our relations with Vietnam have grown in the last couple of decades, more so in the last two years. Last year, the Vietnam government launched a campaign called ‘Year of India-Vietnam Friendship’ and early this year, Vice President Hamid Ansari graced the occasion by becoming a part of the celebrations.
The extent of a blooming relationship became pronounced soon after the NDA came to power, when Sushma Swaraj, our External Affairs Minister, visited the country.
Thereafter, our President, Pranab Mukherjee visited Vietnam and an MoU was signed to cover a defence pact.
It is now Vietnam’s turn to reciprocate and Premier Nguyen Tan Dung is already in the country, leading a 50 member trade delegation, which would call on the President, and other Government officials. It is expected that the Premier will have a separate interactive session with our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The delegation, after visiting the holy Bodhgaya, would head towards New Delhi where a very busy schedule awaits.
When President Mukherjee visited Hanoi six weeks ago, a defence MOU was signed, covering a $100 million line of credit to purchase patrol boats to boost coastal security.
India will provide military hardware to Vietnamese armed forces. Since both countries predominantly use Russian defence equipment, expecting bilateral cooperation in maintenance and spare supplies, when needed, should not pose a problem.
Seven years ago, both countries became strategic partners due to growing Chinese threats in the area, particularly in and around the South China Sea. India has offered to build the Vietnamese armed forces, for which Vietnam has shown keen interest.
India has long been following an intensified Look East policy, especially in the ASEAN region, where Vietnam plays a vital role. Both countries have made reasonably good progress with bilateral trade reaching $ 7 billion, which could go up considerably, if expanded. Vietnam wants India to invest in oil and gas exploration, mining, infrastructure, IT sector, textiles, engineering goods and services in the beginning.
China has, however, openly resented the idea of India joining Vietnam in oil/gas exploration, though this has to be purely treated as a commercial deal rather than attaching any political aspiration.
There is also a strong possibility of important defence MoUs being concluded during the current visit.
Though China has extended economic aids to Hanoi in the past, Vietanam, wants to establish itself as an independent nation, based on its national policy and development requirements. In addition to that Vietnam playing the country coordinator for India in the ASEAN and it is imperative that both countries extend their hand of friendship and cooperate in a big way.
While full details have not yet been announced, direct air flights between the two countries are expected to be scheduled from 5th November, and it is hoped that, before long, airlines would plan direct services to Bodhgaya to promote pilgrimage tourism for Buddhists of the region.