Low-cost, pure drinking water project launched around West Bengal’s Shantiniketan

The population around Shantiniketan, associated with Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore, will soon start getting pure drinking water, at a low cost of 50 paise per litre

Social service organisation, Sulabh International, known for achieving success in cost-effective sanitation, on December 5, 2018, started an innovative water project in Mirzapur village in Bolpur that will convert contaminated pond water into pure drinking water and bottle it. Areas in and around Shantiniketan, are badly affected with high content of fluoride and other chemicals and this new project will help to ensure clean drinking water in the area at minimal cost, said Sulabh International’s founder, Bindeshwar Pathak.

The project uses the design of French technology, developed by French organisation, Fountain 1001. Pathak dedicated the plant to Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, who was associated with the place in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, where he founded the Viswa Bharti University. He said that this plant will produce around 10,000 litres of pure drinking water daily, in the near future. The plant will treat accumulated rain water into bottled water, by using technology and will be available at a cost of only Rs 10 for a 20-litre pack among the local people, he added.

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This is sixth such project that Sulabh has introduced in West Bengal, which, along with Bihar, is facing the problem of arsenic surface water in large areas. The project is being managed by Shantiniketan-based organisation, SEVA. Sulabh is running water projects at Madhusudankati and Iskcon-Haridaspur in North 24 Pargana District, Murshidabad in Murshidabad District, Mayapur in Nadia district and Suvasgram in South 24 Pargana district. A large number of professors and students of Vishwa Bharti University were present on the occasion of the beginning of the project, at Mirzapur village.

Pathak said on the occasion that ‘concerned with the acute problems faced by the rural population in West Bengal, because of arsenic contamination of groundwater and bacteriological contamination of surface water, we are advocating a new, people-centric and decentralised approach’. “Inspired by the works of a French company (1001 Fontaines) in Cambodia and Madagascar, we undertook pilot projects in a few villages of West Bengal, which were seriously affected by arsenic, fluoride and microbiological contamination of ground and surface water,” he said. “The basic idea was to empower villagers in entrepreneurship and technology adoption, so that they could apply appropriate technology for upgrading the quality of water collected from traditional surface water sources and supply the same to the doorsteps of the rural population,” he added.

He pointed out that there are many perennial surface water sources like ponds, rivers, lakes, spring water, dug wells, etc., in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and many other states in the Ganga-Brahmaputra plains, which could go a long way in the conservation and utilisation of the traditional surface water sources in the country.