Potable water becomes dearer in Tiruchi

Water ATMs set up by the civic body has become popular in Tiruchi.

Water ATMs set up by the civic body has become popular in Tiruchi.   | Photo Credit: M_Moorthy

Rise in temperature and increase in price of packaged water have hit the people

The demand for water from the couple of automated vending machines installed by the Tiruchi Corporation has increased following the rise in temperature and also due to the strike by packaged drinking water suppliers. The packaged drinking water suppliers have also increased the price of a 20-litre can by ₹5 in the city.

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The two vending machines, one near Mainguard Gate and another near the Marakkadai bus stop are currently functional and frequented by residents in the locality.

The Tiruchi Corporation had, in 2019, drawn up plans to set up reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment and vending plants with an approximate capacity of 1,000 litres an hour at affordable rates at around 73 locations in the city under the Smart City Mission. But it has set up only two so far.

The plan, however, has been dropped in light of the recent Madras High Court order imposing restrictions on the extraction of groundwater for commercial purposes, officials say. “We cannot flout the court direction. We understand that the vending machines are in good demand; we will soon think of some alternative to meet the demand,” said a senior official at the civic body. The already established ones will continue to function, he said.

“Until last week, only college students who alighted from buses here would come to fill water bottles. But now residents bring pots and water cans too,” said a guard at the water vending machine at Mainguard Gate. Those accessing the machines must come with a container to fill water as bottles are not provided. A litre of water can be bought at ₹1 and 20 litres for ₹7.

“The rates are nominal when compared with packaged water bottles in the market which cost at least ₹20, or packaged cans which cost anywhere between ₹30-40,” he said. Access to the 20-litre tap require a QR code which is available with the guard. "Until recently, the 20-litre tap was rarely used. However, in the past week, residents from nearby areas have used the vending machine frequently. At least 20 have used it since Monday,” he said.

While the Corporation has been commended by the users for installing the machine, they however, demanded more such facilities across the city. “It would be of great use in places such as Thillai Nagar,” said S. Subhash, a student. “Tourists and shoppers who visit Mainguard Gate, Teppakulam and the Big Bazaar area will benefit from the vending machine, especially during summer,” he observed.

Meanwhile, packaged water supply units supplying water to residents in the city have increased the price per can by ₹5. “In a single day, 30 units were supplying about 70,000 cans. Since the strike, they have to bear the extra load,” said N. Hemanathan, Secretary, Packaged Drinking Water Supply Workers Association (PDWSWA).

“The HC order says that if we are pumping groundwater, we must pay the government for it. If that plan comes to force, the prices will increase. The ₹5 hike is temporary,” he said.

Amma water bottles

Meanwhile, the Amma water bottles, sold at two stalls at Central Bus Stand have been flying off the shelves over the last week, says P. Perumal, a vendor. “In a day, we would sell about 500 bottles, but now, we sell at least 950-1,000. Passengers sometimes even buy in bulk”, he said. The Amma water bottles are sold at ₹10. “Some restaurants and stalls supplying food near the bus stand are also buying this water since packaged drinking water supply has taken a hit,” he said.

Interesting read: Amma water proves a hit

Citizens opt for purifiers

Some residents have started purchasing water purifiers as a permanent solution, says H. Ghouse Baig, a consumer activist. “To avoid the fluctuating prices and quality of water from these suppliers, many have purchased water purifiers. A range of purifiers are available to meet the requirements of residents based on the water quality,” he added.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 2:02:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/potable-water-becomes-dearer-in-tiruchi/article30992666.ece

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