Novel project to purify water

Villagers lukewarm to the idea

The project was introduced on pilot basis

TIRUPATI: A simple and down-to-earth technology very much in the reach of the common man has come to nothing for these villagers, for the urge and drive to apply it in one's own life and for one's own good are missing.

At a time when water-borne diseases like diarrhoea and cholera are posing a grave threat, the project on `water purification' taken up by N. Srilatha, a food science and nutrition student in Sri Padmavathi Women's University (SPMVV), has the potential to help villagers tide over the crisis, as the input used as a coagulant here is the commonly-available drumstick (moringa oleifera). Though the idea evoked a great response in the villages where it has been introduced on a pilot basis, residents are not keen on using it in their routine.

"The process is to remove the kernel, grind the pods to a fine powder and make a paste by adding little water. Seventy-five gm of this material has to be added to a litre of water and stirred for two minutes.

The water is ready for consumption in an hour with no change in taste or smell," says the student. By attracting the fine particles and microbes, the powder settles down. It acts similar to the commonly-used chemical coagulant, aluminium sulphate, vis-a-vis chemical parameters like chlorides, alkalinity, acidity and pH.

This `green alternative' definitely has an edge, especially when studies are indicating that alum could be carcinogenic. A study conducted by the Coimbatore-based Avinashilingam University with water sample collected from Bhavani river found drumstick as a better coagulant than similar natural agents like vettiver, fenugreek, ginger and cumin.

The seed powder was distributed to residents of Nennuru in Ramachandrapuram mandal and Gutthivaripalle of Renigunta mandal at an NSS camp two months ago. A survey conducted in Nennuru has revealed that none of the residents evinced interest in using the technology for their own good, even while expressing satisfaction at the positive change brought about by it.

Like Neelamma, an old woman, many others explained that villagers were too busy with agriculture, while Dakshayani, a housewife, says she preferred to sell the drumsticks grown in their backyard for a price.

A.D. Rangarajan

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