Providing pure water during drought

Providing pure water during drought

Water Crisis

Many border areas of Karnataka are battling drought. But the ‘Shuddha Neeru’ initiative provides a viable solution to their problems, writes Manjunatha Hegde Bomnalli

Pure drinking water has literally become  a luxury in the drought-prone districts of Mumbai-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka. Most of the tanks and borewells in the villages have gone dry and the remaining water is contaminated.

So great is the shortage of drinking water that residents of many villages are forced to walk many kilometres for just one pot of water. 

Though the situation is worsening and pure drinking water is unavailable to several villagers, they somehow manage to arrange packaged drinking water for guests.

However, the situation is now slowly changing. The campaign to install purified drinking water plants in the villages of this black cotton soil region is spreading fast.

After the success of 31 plants at different places in Gadag district, which provides 20 litres of purified drinking water for Rs 2, the K H Patil Foundation and Rural Medical Service Society (RMSS) are expanding their ‘Shuddha Neeru’ project to other villages in the region which depend on tank water for consumption. 

The move has come as a boon for the villagers. The man behind this revolution is none other than former minister H K Patil, son of the late K H Patil. 

However, public participation is a must for this project, as the local community, gram panchayat or local co-operative society will share the responsibility of implementing and maintaining the water purification plants.

In several villages in the region, the washing of cattle, utensils and clothes are all done in the same tank which is used to draw drinking water. Therefore, people suffer from waterborne diseases like gastroenteritis, cholera and typhoid.  As per the requirements and financial conditions of the villagers, the K H Patil Foundation and RMSS provide three options. 

They provide financial support, machinery or mere technical guidance. They purify the water from tanks or borewells. With the help of generators, “Any Time Water (ATW)” plants have also been opened at two places in Gadag.

Ten paise per litre

In Dharwad district, Haliyal village in Hubli taluk was the first village to get a ‘Shuddha Neeru’ plant. The gram panchayat developed the infrastructure for the plant while K H Patil Foundation and RMSS provided the water purification equipment in seven stages including activated carbon filtering, softening, reverse osmosis membrane and ultraviolet sterilisation. The equipment has warranty for five years and the local community has the responsibility of maintaining the plant by collecting the water charges.

In villages like Haliyal, people have purchased 20-litre cans and are seen standing in queues to collect purified water. 

“We are happy that we’re able to get clean water from the ‘Shuddha Neeru’ plant. This water is very pure and safe compared to tank or tap water and will protect us from diseases too. We collect 20 litres of purified water when we put Rs 2 into the machine,” says Fakirgouda Hanumanthgouda, a resident of Haliyal village.

“We want to conduct similar campaigns in other districts of the region, so more than 100 needy villages can have drinking water purification units in by March, 2013. As the International Co-operative Year is being celebrated this year, involvement of local co-operative societies and local community has given importance to this campaign,” said Patil.

More approval

Residents of Hebsur village in Hubli taluk have come forward to bear the entire cost of the plant which amounts to nearly Rs 10 lakh, while Kalwad villagers in Navalgund taluk want to share 50 per cent of the cost to install the plant at an existing building.

Recently,the plants have started functioning at Annigeri in Dharwad district and Agadi in Haveri district. 

According to RMSS Secretary S R Naganur, residents of more villages are approaching the foundation to get the plants installed in their areas. 

“Such plants have been installed even at Lambani Tandas at Mahalingpur and Nabhapur.

The cost of each purification plant is around Rs 4.5 lakh, and around 1.5 lakh litres of purified water is being collected daily. We do not interfere after the local community enters into an agreement with the equipment providers, but they cannot revise the water charges without consulting us. Our campaign also motivates the villagers to contribute their own hard-earned money to implement and maintain this project, which is aimed at helping them maintain self-esteem, good health and to save valuable man days,” Naganur added.

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