Book on Odisha’s ‘drink from tap’ mission released at IIT-Madras

The book, authored by G. Mathi Vathanan, Additional Chief Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Odisha, details the difficulties the bureaucrat faced while implementing the scheme

April 23, 2024 07:29 pm | Updated 07:45 pm IST - CHENNAI

G. Mathi Vathanan, Additional Chief Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Odisha, and Shiv Das Meena, Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, at the book release event on Monday.

G. Mathi Vathanan, Additional Chief Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Odisha, and Shiv Das Meena, Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, at the book release event on Monday. | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ B

A book detailing Odisha’s ‘drink from tap’ mission to provide potable water to the urban poor was launched at Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) in Chennai on Monday.

The book, authored by G. Mathi Vathanan, Additional Chief Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Odisha, details the difficulties the bureaucrat faced in engaging people and overcoming the discouragement from senior bureaucrats elsewhere.

Shiv Das Meena, Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, released the book People First: How Odisha’s Drink from Tap Mission Quenched Every Thirst at IIT-M. “Mr. Mathi Vathanan’s work is worth emulating. Women are the beneficiaries and water managers. The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board is working with the Water Corporation of Odisha to emulate the model,” he said.

In a matter of a few years, by training women from self help groups (SHGs), Odisha managed to provide clean drinking water through taps to the urban poor.

The support for the project came from IIT-M professors, said Srinivasa Chary, chief executive officer of WASH Innovation Hub. He termed the work revolutionary and praised Mr. Mathi Vathanan for setting a new standard at the global level. “This is a public sector reform. That is the uniqueness of what India has done,” he said. According to him, the project has helped to supply water to around 26 lakh people in Odisha 24x7.

Mr. Mathi Vathanan said: “As per the World Health Organization, one in four persons the world over do not have access to drinking water. That person is an urban poor. We started with (the determination that) every person should have potable water,” and added that the water scarcity in Bhubaneshwar in 1997 inspired him to bring the reformation.

The success of the project such that 99% of the households have water connection and 97% pay for the water they consume. The official further said his dream was to train every jal sathi (water partner) in IIT-M. The women from SHGs are the ones who helped make reality the goal of bringing water to the doorstep of each household, he added. The mission’s success was due to building people’s trust in the government, Mr. Mathi Vathanan said.

Mahesh Panchagnula , in-charge Director of IIT-M, compared the building of IIT-M to Puri’s clean drinking water through tap project and said both were success stories due to the efforts of the government. M.S. Mohan Kumar, professor in the Civil Engineering Department, also spoke.

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