MCG will remove water ATMs from footpaths
After three months of their installation, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) has decided to dismantle or remove all water ATMs from the footpaths across the city and relocate them to different places.
The decision of the civic body to remove these structures from footpaths across the city comes in the wake of complaints from city-based social activists and local residents, both of whom have called these structures an encroachment of the public space in a city like Gurugram, where the space available for pedestrians and cyclists is already scarce.
Vikas Malik, executive engineer, MCG, said, “We have asked our vendors to remove all the water ATMs from footpaths as soon as possible. We will allocate suitable spaces for them.”
For long, the MCG had been planning to make potable water available for the floating population of the city at affordable rates.
A year ago, the MCG had hired private vendors to install 54 such water ATMs and sell potable water at affordable prices. In April 2017, the MCG installed its first water ATM at the Huda City Centre Metro station. The pilot project was inspired by a similar one in Bengaluru that was started in the year 2014. Till now, 15 water ATMs have been installed in Gurugram.
So far, such water ATMs have been installed in places such as Iffco Chowk, MG Road, Cyber City, Sector 39, Sector 32(near Medanta), among others, by private vendors hired by the MCG. None of these structures has been made operational yet.
SK Sharma, a resident of Sector 39 and an RTI(right to information) activist, said, “I found three such water ATMs on the pavement of the road leading from the Huda City Centre to Subhash Chowk (Sohna Road). About wo weeks ago, I brought this issue to the notice of the former MCG commissioner Yashpal Yadav, requesting him to remove these structures from the footpaths. I have seen no action yet on the part of the MCG yet. I have also filed an RTI query for the details as well.”
Yashpal Yadav, when contacted, said, he had formed a committee of officials under additional municipal commissioner YS Gupta, executive engineer Vikas Malik, and a few others to look into the matter. It was under Yadav’s tenure that the MCG had planned to install the water ATMs across the city and allot their installation and operation to private vendors to sell water at nominal prices and display advertisements to earn revenue. However, Yadav was transferred two days later to Palwal as the deputy commissioner.
“It is true that the water ATMs have been wrongly erected on footpaths. I have formed a committee to look into the matter, and such structures will be removed soon. Our objective behind installing water ATMs was to make potable water available for the people in areas such as bus stands, markets, crowded places, where the availability of drinking water is an issue,” Yadav told the Hindustan Times on phone from Palwal.
Water was to be made available at these ATMs for ₹2, ₹3 and ₹10 for 250 millilitres, 1 litre and 20 litres respectively.
Ramesh Yadav, a city-based social activist, said, “A water ATM of a standard size, occupying at least 60 to 70 square feet of area on the footpath, is totally illegal. Further, the vendors will put advertisements on these ATMs that will attract the attention of the commuters and cause accidents. Thirdly, people will stop near ATM booths, parking their vehicles on the road, that may lead to traffic congestion. As such, MCG’s plan is questionable. We have written to the MCG on Monday in this regard.”