50 paise per liter!
Sulabh’s ambitious project to become fountainhead for dog cheap potable water pan India
Filtered Drinking water ‘Sulabh’ everywhere for a Song
If Sulabh International’s ‘Sulabh jal’ project replicates pan India, the famous water ‘rhyme (rime) of the Ancient Mariner will really go a sea change.
Last week the Meditoall was witness to this ‘watershed’ project blossoming in Gaighata, a remote village in West Bengal near Indo-Bangla border about 60 kilometer from Calcutta. ‘Ami Sulabh Jal Khabo’( I will drink Sulabh jal)- the craze for bottled sulabh jal is among people of the area condemned to drinking arsenic (dangerous toxin) contaminated ground water till not long. A technology brought by Sulabh International from France has proved a boon for people in the area.
And at what price? Only 50 paise per litre! While coming back to our hotel Hayat in Calcutta we carried many dog cheap bottles just for the heck of it. Needless to say we got costly mineral water bottles aplenty in Hayat just for asking. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International and a ‘sanition icon’ who accompanied journos from Delhi, said that the project could be replicated pan India. Sulabh International is all set to replicate it in Varanasi’s Assi Ghat. It could even be a reality in Delhi.
Village co-operative society Madhusudankati Samabay Krishi Unnayan Samity has established a water purification project which converts contaminated pond water into safe drinking water. The arsenic accursed villages of North 24 Parganas district are lapping this water up. At present the Samity is purifying and selling 2000 liters of water every day after packing it in jars and bottles. Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak said the water purification technology had been tested in Cambodia and Madagascar but is being used on a larger scale for the first time in the village.
International Academy of Environmental Sanitation and Public Health, an associated organization of Sulabh International Social Service Organization, in collaboration with 1001 Fontaines, France undertook the present project. The installation cost of the project was Rs 20 lakh, which is shared between the French organization, Sulabh and the villagers.
Talking to meditoall in Gaighata, Dr. Pathak said, ‘If water purified so cheaply could be made available everywhere, 50 percent of disease burden on India would be off. According to the World Health Organization drinking arsenic-laced water over a long period results in various health hazards, including skin problems, skin cancer, cancer of the bladder, kidney and lung, besides other diseases.
Foot note- the famous water rhyme reads as- ‘Water, Water, Everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, Water Everywhere. Nor any drop to drink.’ These are rhymes from The Rime of Ancient Mariner by famous English poet S.T. Coleridge which underline the lack of drinkable water even in the midst of water.