Arsenic-free water for prisoners

Speaking of ­prisoners’ welfare, why not start with giving them access to safe water? asks Sailen ­Bhowmick, President
of RC Tollygunge, D 3291. He is referring to the water purifier the club recently installed at the Berhampore ­Central Correctional Home, in association with RC Murshidabad, D 3291 and Anir Water ­Machinery, Kolkata. Earlier, the prisoners would drink water directly from the taps inside the prison. The water here contains high amount of arsenic, “long-term exposure of which may cause ­cancer in the skin, lungs, bladder and kidney. It can also cause ­thickening and ­pigmentation of the skin,” says ­Bhowmick, who is a Technical ­Consultant for the Rural ­Management ­Development ­Department, Government of Sikkim.

Many parts of ­Sikkim and West Bengal ­suffer from lack of clean drinking water, he points out. A water treatment and management course in Germany helped him understand how he could help in providing clean drinking water in the rural areas in his State.

From L: RC Murshidabad President Dr Ravi, D 3291 DG Brojo Gopal Kundu, Superintendent of the Berhampore Central Correctional Home T R Bhutia and RC Tollygunge President Sailen Bhowmick at the inauguration of the water treatment plant inside the prison.
From L: RC Murshidabad President Dr Ravi, D 3291 DG Brojo Gopal Kundu, Superintendent of the Berhampore Central Correctional Home T R Bhutia and RC Tollygunge President Sailen Bhowmick at the inauguration of the water treatment plant inside the prison.

He set up a research and development unit in 2002 and Indianised the German technology he had got trained in. The absorption technology used by the Germans had to be modified to suit the local conditions because “the character of water and the amount of arsenic differed from that of the German water.” After ­successful research, he decided to put the ­technology to use through Rotary. “As club ­president I asked my members and they agreed. Next we are going to install the ­purification plants in other schools and ­hospitals in the region,” he adds.

The Superintendent of the Correctional Home has also confirmed that after the installation of the water purifier, stomach disorders and other health issues due to drinking contaminated water have drastically reduced among the prisoners.

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