In principle, water ATMs had been proposed for areas that did not benefit from piped water supply. Even this was controversial because the underlying message was that only basic drinking needs would be taken care of, rather than all basic household/domestic needs. In practice, there has been slippage. In the first place, the Delhi Government was meant to be installing water kiosks providing free water in ‘underdeveloped’ areas. Yet, the first water kiosk installed was near a metro station for the convenience of the travelling public. Further, alongside the free water distributed in those kiosks, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) agreed in late 2015 to a proposal for setting up water ATMs in various parts of Delhi at a price of Rs 5 per 20 litres. Supply through water ATMs is probably an excellent option to fill specific gaps where there is no water supply, preferably on a temporary basis. There are, however, various reasons why water ATMs should not become a permanent tool for accessing drinking water.
Author: Philippe Cullet
Dr Philippe Cullet is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and Professor of International and Environmental Law at SOAS University of London. His main areas of research are environmental law, natural resources, and socio-economic rights. His current work focuses on water and sanitation law and policy. His latest book is Sanitation Law and Policy in India – An Introduction to Basic Instruments (OUP, 2015 - co-edited with L. Bhullar). He is preparing the second edition of Water Law in India – An Introduction to Legal Instruments (OUP, co-edited with S. Koonan).