A campaign in Saundatti taluk encourages villages with water bodies to install their own purifying units
Unsafe drinking water is one of the major causes of diseases in India, where 3.7 crore people suffer from typhoid, gastroenteritis, cholera and similar diseases, and nearly 15 lakh children die every year after consuming unsafe water, the former Minister H.K. Patil has said. On an average, one child dies every 20 seconds.
“And by the time we are done with this (hour-long) meeting, 180 children would have died in different parts of the country; the situation is indeed grave,” Mr. Patil said, while launching a campaign for safe drinking water here on Wednesday.
Mr. Patil was campaigning for the Gadag-based K.H. Patil Foundation and Rural Medical Service Society, which has, since the last two years, been promoting the installation of purified drinking water units in various parts of north Karnataka.
The two organisations identified Dhaderkoppa, Hanchinal, Aachmatti, Halkatti, Kagdal, Chikkoppa, Kuruvinkoppa and Hirekoppa in Saundatti taluk for the installation of water purifying units, as all these villages had permanent source of water such as tanks and ponds.
There were several villages in the region with perennial sources of water, such as tanks and ponds that catered to the domestic and irrigation requirements of the rural community, but had been polluted over the years. Two examples were the tanks in Dhaderkoppa and Hanchinal, where residents had no alternative but to consume impure water.
Tanks in both the villages were found to be highly contaminated with chemicals and acids that mixed with rainwater, fertilizer and pesticide residues, faecal matter and the various substances used by residents for washing clothes, bathing, etc. However, neither the gram panchayat nor the taluk administration, let alone the Environment and Pollution Control Board, had declared the water ‘unsafe' for drinking.
“What else can we do? The rich have their own open wells, borewells and water purifiers at home, but the poor are helpless,” a resident of Hanchinal told The Hindu.
Pipelines had been laid to supply water to the villages. But water comes only once a week. For the rest of the days, the residents were forced to use the tank water. Even the water supplied through the pipeline was not purified. It not only stank, but one could often find worms floating in it.
This situation is not unique to Hanchinal or Dhaderkoppa. A large number of villages all over the State and north Karnataka face the problem of unsafe drinking water.
“On our part, we have decided to intervene and provide a solution in these villages,” said Mr. Patil.
The campaign was essentially to motivate residents of villages with perennial water sources to install purifier units through their own contribution, instead of remaining dependent on the government.
A unit could be installed at a cost of Rs. 10 lakh. It could be compared to an ATM unit: by inserting a coin, the outlet opens and purified water starts flowing. It would cost only Rs. 2 for 20 litres. One unit can provide 1,000 litres per hour.
The society would provide the technical know-how and could even arrange for financial assistance, its secretary S.R. Naganure said.
So far, 35 units had been installed in the last 15 months in Gadag district, he said.
Keywords: purified drinking water