Odisha’s Puri has become the first city in the state to have a drink-from-tap facility. This means that the city now has safe drinking water that can be used directly from tap for cooking and drinking, without requiring further filtration.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the ‘Sujal’ or drink-from-tap mission on Monday.

The water we provide in Puri is doubly safe as there is no fear of contamination from the reservoir to the households through pipelines or in the storage tanks on the roofs of the houses,says a top official in Odisha.

Executive engineer Sarat Mishra says a multi-layer system has been put in place to monitor the quality of water on a regular basis. “Online analysers have been installed. Automatic analysers have been fitted at the distribution end too. Thus, we shall be alerted and shall take corrective measures whenever there is an issue with the quality of water. Then there are third party laboratories that test water samples on a daily basis. There is also a mobile lab that attends to any quality related issue in case of a complaint,” he said. 

Going through the Odisha government’s publications, the scheme at Puri is part of the ambitious Mission Drink from Tap under the Sujala (pure water) scheme launched in August 2019 through WATCO (Water Corporation of Odisha). Pilot projects were launched in the capital Bhubaneswar and Puri.

The scheme seems to have been implemented first in Puri, keeping in mind its great publicity value and potential to draw more tourists. On average, Puri attracts about 2 crore tourists every year to the world-famous Jagannath Temple and its magnificent beach.

As Patnaik says “tourists need not have to carry water bottles everywhere. This initiative will minimise plastic waste in the city every day”.

Mission Drink from Tap aims at providing water supply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, each day of the year. The mission is also aimed at addressing the protection of water sources, water treatment, and the prevention of recontamination in the transmission and distribution system that is continuously full and under positive pressure throughout pipelines and networks.

When this scheme under Sujala expands to other cities of the state, to at least 12 lakh urban dwellers, the Odisha government is targeting a revenue collection of Rs 250 crore per annum (approximately).

The collection through meter readings will be done by the Jal Sathis (water volunteers, all women, as part of women’s empowerment), who, in turn, are supposed to incentives of an estimated Rs 8 crore per annum.

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