5 years on, SoBo residents' water cooler plans still stuck in Limbo

When several citizens’ groups in South Mumbai decided to pool their resources together and provide clean drinking water to people free of cost, they were certain that their initiative would be met with appreciation. They were wrong. Since the past five years, their plan to install water coolers at different spots in the island city has been stuck in a limbo, thanks to the various objections raised by the BMC.

The general secretary of the Colaba-Cuffe Parade Residents Association said that the BMC refused them permission for a water cooler in their area citing lack of space, whereas in reality the spot is occupied by illegal hawkers. Pics/Bipin Kokate

The idea goes back to 2008. Noticing that many of the roadside taps installed by the corporation were running dry, residents’ associations in areas like Colaba, Cuffe Parade and Marine Lines decided to take up the initiative. But their were met with stiff resistance.

Water woes: The residents’ groups had thought of installing the water coolers to bring relief to members of the lower middle class — such as these residents of Ambedkar Nagar in Cuffe Parade - who often have to struggle to get water.

“I wanted a water cooler to be set up on the Third Fourth Pasta Lane, as there are many schools in the locality. It would cater to those from the lower middle classes and school students who cannot afford packaged drinking water frequently,” said Amber Nazarie, president of the Third Fourth Pasta Lane Residence Association.

She added, “The corporation raised objections, asking who would take charge of maintenance, and saying that the facilities would be misused.”

“Our proposal for a water cooler at the Cuffe Parade signal near CRPA garden was denied on grounds of lack of space. The fact is that the space around it is occupied by illegal hawkers, and nothing has been done to evict them,” said Padmaker Nandekar, general secretary of the Colaba-Cuffe Parade Residents Association.

Vinod Shekhar, who was the corporator of Colaba in 2008, put in a notice on the project at the BMC house meeting in 2008 — the response came from present municipal commissioner only last year, turning down the proposal. “All we wanted was to provide water to the common man free of cost. We did not even ask for funds from them. It seems that even asking for space was too much,” said Shekhar. Devidas Kshirsagar, assistant municipal commissioner of the A ward, could not be reached for comment. 

w Installing water coolers will definitely be helpful, provided they are maintained. I have seen some water coolers around but I don’t feel like drinking from them, as they are always dirty.
— Piyush Upadhyay, a bank employee in Cuffe Parade

w I am a daily traveller and there are no coolers in the area. If one is put up, it would be definitely be of great help.
— Devendra Shah, a daily commuter to South Mumbai 

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