WITH MONTHLY earnings of Rs 3,000 and a family of five, including a paralysed husband, to support money is always in short supply for fifty-something Rekha Bai.
And yet, the resident of Shiv Nagar in ward 64 has just shelled out Rs 1,000, or a third of the household income, as deposit for a connection from the Community Managed Water Supply Scheme (CMWSS) to be launched in her locality.
Ask her why and she responds simply, “Aapno ko nipatno padno” (One has to deal with water shortage oneself).
It is a realisation that has sparked off a quiet revolution in urban poverty pockets and illegal colonies that rarely figure on the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) radar.
Fed up with the civic body’s failure to provide water, sanitation and other basic amenities an increasing number of residents in lower-middle class localities are paying hard-earned cash to set up civic infrastructure, with a little help from UN Habitat and the District Urban Development Agency (DUDA).
Whether it is water supply from Narmada or Sirpur lake, building lavatories in slum settlements or household level garbage collection the accent is on community owned and managed structures rather than relying on the IMC.
Take the Rs 51 lakh CMWS Scheme in ward 64 that will cater to the water needs of 1200-odd families in Shiv Nagar, Shaheen
Nagar, Kamal Nagar, Chaudhary Park and Pawan Putra Nagar.
The project involves laying a 5.8 lakh km pipeline to ferry Narmada water to a 4.5 lakh litre overhead tank which is already ready and supply is expected to begin by January
UN Habitat has provided a “revolving fund” of Rs 20 lakh for the project while DUDA has chipped in with Rs 10 lakh with the remaining costs to be borne by local residents.
“Money collected from the residents will then be routed back to set up similar schemes in other localities with water shortage”,
The task of collecting deposits and managing the water supply project has been entrusted to a 17-member CMWSS Samiti, comprising local women residents.
The response has been enthusiastic, to say the least. “A sum of Rs 4.5 lakh has already been collected from residents during the last month and we expect the entire amount to be deposited by the beginning of January”, revealed Samiti chairman Munni Bai.
The reason is not hard to discern. “In summers we have to pay around Rs 500 per month for water. Rs 300 for a water tanker plus an additional Rs 200 to those with borewells in return of four cans of water everyday. Once the Scheme begins we will have to pay only Rs 60 per month, apart from the Rs 1,000 connection charges”, reveals Sapna Malviya, the young and articulate Samiti secretary.
“Money collected from the residents will then be routed back to set up similar schemes in other localities with water shortage”, revealed DUDA incharge SDM Vivek Shrotiya
He says that although initially sceptical, residents were converted once they saw the infrastructure come up. In fact, residents of the five colonies will organise a weeklong Bhagwat Katha starting December 9 as thanksgiving to the gods for finally delivering their localities from water scarcity.
The project to supply filtered water from Sirpur Lake to the parched Dwarkapuri locality, another joint initiative of the UN Habitat and DUDA, is also notching up supporters at a fast clip.
Under the project residents would be supplied 12 litres of filtered water from Sirpur lake for Rs 2, or Rs 60 per month for 360 litres of potable water. Nearly 700 residents have already given their assent.
“A filtration plant will be set up at Sirpur and the treated water will then be made available to Dwarkapuri residents”, revealed DUDA official Vinita Tiwari.
Here, too, the lion’s share, Rs 6.75 lakh has been provided by UN Habitat with DUDA contributing Rs 2,.5 lakh. A self-help group manned by local women residents constituted as part of the Development of Woman and Child in Urban Areas will be asked to make up the remaining Rs 75,000.