Safe drinking water for Gujarat villages

Hand pumps and drawing water from wells are ­becoming a thing of the past for 18 ­villages near ­Bharuch, Gujarat, where both the community as well as schools in villages now have access to clean drinking water throughout the year. Although surface and groundwater are abundant here, the water quality  is affected by inconsistent rainfall, siltation and ­riverbank ­erosion. This had been a cause of distress as water borne diseases were on a rise. But RC Bharuch, D 3060, stepped in to change the scenario.

The club conducts a series of ­medical camps named after TRF Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee, as also the Kalyan RAHAT Medical Mela in  these  villages. Each year over 16,000 patients are screened and over 1,500 surgeries ranging from cataract, hernia and heart transplant are performed.

Rotary also helped the ­villagers to end the water crisis. A global grant ­collaboration between RC Ancona Conera (D 2090), RC San Vito (D 2060), RC Charlotte Hall (D 7620), RC Bharuch and TRF raised $77,000 to install RO water plants in 18 ­villages. MoUs were signed with the village schools or gram panchayat. Post installation, a 10 litre water can was distributed to every house in all the villages.

TRF Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee inaugurating an RO water plant in one of the villages near Bharuch as PDG Ashok Kapadia, a community leader and Club President Chirag Tambedia look on.

At Deshad village, the RO plant is set up inside the Government ­Primary School and has been a ­subject of ­investigation for the young minds here. “Woh pani ko thanda kaise karta hai?” asks Rijul, a Class 1 ­student, who is filled with wonder after ­drinking cold water that comes out from pressing the “blue button.” For Alpa, another student, food cooked in the RO water tastes better and she no longer has to force herself to eat; rather “I eat a ­little more now,” she quips. Over 400 ­students study here and “clean drinking water has improved their health and increased the ­number of ­admissions at the school,” says Krushnakumar, a community leader.

On his visit to an installation ceremony RI Director Manoj Desai described this as “the best example of a good PR Project. Rotary can reach the most remote village and provide clean drinking water.”Aimed at accelerating and supporting the WinS programme RC Bharuch is also ­conducting ­activities related to sanitation and hygiene in these schools.

While students get the water for free, households are charged Rs 5 for 10 litres of water. The amount charged is minimal and residents are willing to pay for the assured safe water supply. The money is used to maintain the RO plant.

PDG Ashok Kapadia says, “We have facilitated these villages and they have become capable of managing their water supply. Community management of water supply systems reduces costs for maintenance and allows the entire village to access safe drinking water.”

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