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Indian slums to charge fee for safe drinking water

India, like many countries, is struggling in the effort to provide clean drinking water for all its citizens. In a move to gain more funding to do this, "they hope to fund an effort to improve rural water supply by adding a one Rupee tax onto bottle mineral water. Nearly 8 billion bottles of mineral water are consumed in the state in one year. The additional tax would raise INR8bn (US$170m)."

Additionally, "(India) Maharashtra plans to replace all the public taps in Mumbai slums with bottled water. Slum residents will have to purchase the water for INR5 (US$0.10) for 20 liters." The public water taps available in some slum areas are hot beds for waterborne diseases thanks to mud and stale water puddles on the ground.

Implications:

Increased tax on water bottles may be a great source of funding for clean water projects, as water bottle consumption tends to be very elastic. It will be interesting to see how charing slum dwellers for bottled water will play out. Although 10 cents is a nominal fee to some, to others it may be too much. On the other hand, if a small fee will create a sustainable system for providing clean water, then this may be a step in the right direction. Similar systems have worked in rural Kenya; generally speaking, families will pay a small amount if need be in order to ensure the health of themselves and their families.

Dealing with increased plastic trash will have to be considered in the design of this project. Income generating projects around recycling the plastic water bottles may pop up as slum citizens face growing piles of clear plastic bottles.

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