Nabipur residents happy with private water supply
Statesman News Service
Armed with a pre-paid recharge card, Mr Joylal Sheikh, a daily wager, walked up to the water treatment plant near his residence, pressed the card against the plant&’s screen and a discharge of 20 litres arsenic-free safe drinking water filled up his plastic jar. Sheikh is not alone in collecting potable water this way. Even a rural widow like Mrs Jhuma Mondal who is struggling to maintain her family does the same. And in doing so, the have-nots and the have-lots have no difference, at least, in this remote village of Nabipur at Raninagar area in Murshidabad district. The Nabipur village that reports arsenic-induced deaths every year got yesterday a water treatment plant, a private initiative to ensure pure drinking water.
Years ago, Mr Somen Sarkar, a primary school teacher, had money to purchase arsenic-free drinking water but he died due to prolonged intake of arsenic-contaminated water because safe drinking water was not available in his locality ~ Katlamari village of Raninagar area in Murshidabad.
In the decade since Sarkar succumbed to arsenicosis, there was no pause in similar deaths.
Till date, the arsenic-affected area stands a mute witness to government&’s failure to provide pure drinking water. So grave is the situation that the local MLAs have come out in the open supporting the private initiative to supply arsenic-free drinking water for a fee. The Jalangi MLA, Mr. Abdur Razzak of CPIM and Raninagar MLA, Mrs Feroza Begum of Congress inaugurated yesterday an anti-arsenic plant set up by a multi-national company, Eureka Forbes that deals in water filter technology.
The arsenic-removal plant was handed over to a local NGO called ‘Rural National Club’ that will supervise the production and sale of the treated water as well as maintenance of the water treatment plant. The programme elicited such a huge response that a village fair came up around the anti-arsenic plant.
From now on, the villagers willing to purchase water will be given a smart card. Rs 16 will be charged per 20 litres water, said officials of the MNC that set up the plant as part of its corporate social responsibility. Appreciating the efficacy of the treatment plant, Dr Rajesh Roy, a corporate scientist, claimed that arsenic in drinking water was reduced to zero level. Even a laboratory test report prepared by the NGO showed that arsenic content was totally removed from water treated the plant.
At least five persons died of arsenic-induced diseases at Nabipur village in last two years, said Mr Bhabotosh Biswas, secretary of R N Club.
Asked if the State Water Investigation Department permitted mining of gallons of underground water for commercial purposes, Mr Biswas replied: “We met SWID officials who told us that no such permission was required.”