Water Infrastructure : Swaroopnagar, North 24 Paraganas, W Bengal
Aim: To filter and supply arsenic free, safe and clean drinking water to locals in the arsenic red zone- Swaroopnagar and Bhaduria blocks of North 24 Paragnas district,W Bengal.
Status: Project has been funded by Kara Foundation and completed in 2 phases.
Swarupnagar is situated in North 24 Paraganas District in West Bengal. It is located 30 km from Barasat which is the district headquarters. North 24 Paraganas district is a part of the Gangetic delta that lies east of River Hooghly. Therefore, it is filled with swamps and water canals.
Map of Swaroopnagar Block showing diferent revenue villages the block with diferent levels of arsenic contamination
Map showing the region as arsenic red zone
Other issues that plague these regions include human trafcking both internal as well as cross-border trafcking.
Their daughter was kidnapped and trafficked 5 years ago while they were in UP to do labour work.They have tried all means to find her but have failed.
Bangladeshi migrants talking to us about their experiences and challenges
Many of these villages are located at the Indo-Bangladesh border. Therefore, they have been occupied by refugees who fled Bangladesh at the time of war. While their problems have been addressed to some degree. But improving livelihood options and water quality in these regions is paramount to their long term sustenance.
Why is the project needed?
Swaroop Nagar block is a highly arsenic contaminated zone. Based on WHO and Indian Government standards this entire belt is a red zone. Due to lack of alternatives many people are forced to use hand pumps dispensing arsenic contaminated ground water. This is exposing the locals to unsually high levels of arsenic, leading to numerous deaths due to arsenic poisoning.
A local woman near Bithari filling contaminated ground water for drinking.
Surface Treatment Plant Images
Clean drinking water can be supplied to the region from this filtration facility at nominal prices. But surface water can dry up during summer months and hence is not a reliable source for consistent supply of filtered water through out the year.
Post discussions with Bithari Disha, our local NGO partner and observing the region, an immediate solution was required to prevent further consumption of the contaminated water.We decided to kick start and sustain the project in two phases.
We identified that a bore-well tapping into ground water would complement the existing facility during the dry seasons and will allow for a continuous interrupted supply of clean and safe drinking water.
Therefore with first phase funding of 2,10,000/- from Kara Foundation, a bore-well was dug up to support the open water source during dry months.
After consistent water supply through out the year was secured with help of the bore-well, water purification and supply project has been active.
Water Purification Project – Phase II
Second phase raised INR. 2,84,700 through Kara Foundation to match the daily bottling capacity with daily filtering capacity of 16,000 lts/ to make the project sustainable and fund its own future development and growth to increase water access to the people in the region through the profits generated from the operations.
This has helped generate higher revenues and in future might decrease overhead cost due economies of scale.
The 2nd phase has enabled ROMF and its local NGO partner Bithari Disha to do the following.
1. Utilize the existing water purification infrastructure to increase water access through minimum investment
2. Make it a self-sustainable project where in the project is able to generate funds and through these funds it can be made to run
3. For its planned future projects, the water treatment plant will be able to raise the funds on its own in a period of 17-18 months thus eliminating any scope of fund assistance.
4. For providing water hygiene and safe drinking water precautions so that any disease caused by arsenic contaminated water can be eliminated.
The project is currently on track to run at the potential discussed in phase 2 i.e. to provide 16,200 litres each day. The plant operations will be streamlined and the plant operated at full potential by the end of January 2018.