All the 2,150 residents of K. Ramanathapuram village in Dindigul district are now getting good quality drinking water, thanks to effective community participation and the implementation of the Central government’s Swajaldhara project.

This remote village has two bore wells and an overhead tank. But the ground water is not potable. Kidney ailments and fluorosis are widely prevalent. At least, 50 persons have kidney ailments.

Tests done on the ground water showed that the total dissolved solids level was 2,100 mg/litre, far above the value stipulated for drinking purpose.

Amid this scenario, village head S.A. Jayakumar explained to the villagers about the Swajaldhara project, a demand-driven and participatory approach for sustainable development of rural areas.

A village water supply and sanitation committee was constituted. Led by Kovilur panchayat president Kannan, the VWSC chalked out plans to obtain drinking water. The project cost was Rs.5 lakh, of which the community contribution was Rs. 50,000.

Despite initial resistance, contributions started to pour in, ranging from Rs. 50 to Rs. 500 per family. The project was executed in a month.

Now the village has a 30,000-litre capacity overhead tank, a reverse osmosis treatment plant with a capacity of 500 litres per hour, a waste water recycle and reuse arrangement for the water rejected from RO plant, and a distribution system.

Residents can insert a one rupee coin into an automatic vending machine to collect 10 litres of high quality water. This amount will be spent on maintenance. On an average, the machine receives Rs. 200 a day.

The water has a TDS level of below 70 mg per litre.

“The VWSC has all powers from planning to execution and maintains the project. With technical support from TWAD Board, local people have implemented it successfully,” said Collector M. Vallalar.

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