Faculty from IIT KGP has developed a model for purified drinking water supply, costing Rs. 1 per family per day, for a village in Southern Bengal. Dr. Somnath Ghosal from the Rural Development Centre of IIT Kharagpur has involved participatory management offering villagers access to purified drinking water in a sustainable manner, using Water Cards, Water ATM Vending Machine, etc.
The unique set-up has been built in the Porapara village in West Midnapore district of Bengal. He has installed a fully automated multi filtered UV treated drinking water facility which can provide close to 1000 litres of purified drinking water to 60 families every day at Rs. 1 per family. While the land was freely provided by the villages, IIT KGP helped built the required infrastructure and water purification technologies and funded the entire project.
With water borne diseases and the cost of medical treatment, Dr. Ghosal took to the task of making the villagers understand the need for the water filtration unit. “It has been my dream to build up a project that involved community participation,” he said. Since such self-managed purification units require little intervention in maintenance, they require one-time investments that can become part of the CSR initiatives of both public and private enterprises. “We will be happy to do more such things through CSR Funding since the Technology and Process is now well demonstrated in this Pilot Project” added Dr. Ghosal.
The land on which the filtration unit has been installed was donated by a villager, Kshitij Mahato. In other words, it stands on land owned by a villager. The entire operation of the unit, its upkeep and daily management, is done by the villagers who have formed three committees to manage the operations. It is thus an ‘install and self-operate’ arrangement. The current, and future, financial needs are to be met by the villagers from the funds collected in the form of the daily payment (Rs 1 per family per day) for the purified water. A 17-year-old boy, Dhananjay Mahato along with three other youngsters, is in charge of the daily running of the filtration unit and the daily dispensing of filtered water from 5.30 to 8 AM. Full community participation becomes possible only if villagers have a sense of ownership over a project.
“None of this would have happened had they not placed their faith in us and trusted their own abilities. The land belongs to the villagers. They alone are now responsible for the proper functioning of the project,” remarked Dr. Ghosal. He no longer takes any part in the running of the filtration unit. In fact, he takes prior permission of the villagers before visiting the site.