Residents to get 20-litre cans at Rs. 12; novel project to boost local body’s income

Amidst the growing popularity of packaged drinking water, Mudichur panchayat near Tambaram has ventured into a novel project of supplying purified water in 20-litre cans at a subsidised price to its residents.

The panchayat , which shot into the limelight after winning a national award for ‘best administered local body’ in 1998, will soon begin distributing water that has been purified in a reverse osmosis plant and packaged in 20-litre cans. The cans will be supplied at Rs. 12 against the retail price of a maximum of Rs. 30. The local body has come together with a non-governmental organisation, Hand in Hand, to implement the project that is worth Rs. 40 lakh.

For the project, water is sourced from an open well and then transferred to the reverse osmosis plant that has a capacity to purify about 40,000 litres of water daily.

The panchayat’s president P. Damodaran said: “We came up with this concept when we faced shortfall in maintaining the solid waste management facility in the panchayat. While this will benefit residents who pay a lot for packaged drinking water, it would also mean income generation for the cash-strapped panchayat.”

The local body is all set to start distributing about 1,200 cans of purified water to the residents of Mudichur from Monday. “We discovered that 50 per cent of the 16,000 residents depend on packaged drinking water apart from the water supplied through street taps,” Mr. Damodaran said.

Panchayat officials and representatives of Hand in Hand plan to regularly test water samples to ensure quality. D. Vasu, the panchayat’s secretary, said the samples would be tested at the lab in the plant premises once in two or three days. The samples would also be tested at Kings Institute of Preventive Medicine.

Initially, a larger part of the revenue will be used to repay the loan received through microfinance. It would then be used to sustain a project undertaken by the panchayat and Hand in Hand and also provide income to the panchayat.

Residents, meanwhile, welcomed the initiative as it would reduce their expense towards packaged drinking water. K. Mari Kannan, president of Maruthi Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, said several residents spend up to Rs. 600 a month on packaged drinking water. “We know where water supplied by the panchayat is sourced from unlike water supplied in bubble tops by commercial establishments,” he said.

T. Krishnamurthy of Hand in Hand said the organisation would not only operate and maintain the facility, but also co-ordinate with the panchayat on sales and testing of water samples.

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