Hundreds of villages in the desert district of Barmer received clean and safe drinking water as a New Year gift. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today between the Public Health and Engineering Department of Rajasthan and Cairn Enterprise Centre Society. As per the MoU, water plants will be established and maintained to provide clean and safe drinking water to more than 800 villages in Barmer.
The MoU was signed in presence of Principal Secretary PHED JC Mohanty and Head of CSR at Cairn India Manoj Aggarwal. PHED’s Chief Engineer NK Jain and Cairn’s Sidhartha Balakrishnan signed the MoU. Barmer has an acute shortage of quality drinking water and the available underground water is unsuitable for drinking, having high saline TDS of more than 3000 with high fluoride content. Several prevalent water borne diseases impact the quality of life in this district and also lead to a high incidence of diarrhoea, which in turn leads to a high Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) as well as Maternal Mortality (MMR) in the area, apart from widespread incidence of fluorosis, said Mr Mohanty. Cairn has planned a major CSR intervention to support the Government of Rajasthan (GoR) on water treatment to make the available water safe drinking and its delivery to households, he added. The initiative involves setting up of 333 small scale Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants (1000 to 3000 lph capacity) over the next three years to provide safe drinking water to a large number of people (estimated in excess of one million) living in 800 villages. Cairn’s intervention to provide safe drinking water to the community focuses on Barmer district, part of Thar Desert, which is said to be the most densely populated arid zone in the world with a population density of 90 people per square km. Accordingly, Cairn India initiated the ‘JeevanAmrit’ pilot project, in collaboration with the PHED, Government of Rajasthan, to ensure safe drinking water to the communities in the districts of Barmer and Jalore through the establishment of Reverse Osmosis (RO) facilities. At present, for the pilot project, Water Committee is responsible for collecting all user charges and operations & maintenance of the RO facility. The model Cairn have adopted ensures widespread distribution at the point of consumption. Water ATW (Any-time Water) kiosks have been established at a number of access points; the community is provided with pre-paid smart cards, with which they can access water at their convenience in a manner similar to the access provided by bank ATM machines. In addition, Cairn have partnered with a few local entrepreneurs to run a ‘water on wheels’ system (called ‘jalrath’). Power availability remains unreliable in some areas of Barmer. To address this issue, Cairn is providing for solar powered RO plants in this project, said Ayodhya Prasad, Deputy Manager, Public Relations.