An innovative technology adopted by the Rajasthan Government’s Science and Technology Department to tide over the problem of excess fluoride in drinking water has started yielding positive results after about a decade. The water drawn in several fluoride-affected areas, where the technology was implemented, has been found fit for drinking.
The department had initiated the scheme of installing the handpump attachable defluoridation plants, based on the famous Nalgonda technique, in 1994 in 13 villages in Chaksu tehsil of Jaipur district. Later, another technique of activated alumina was introduced by developing low-cost terracotta filters.
The significance and utility of the activated alumina and other related techniques were publicised at a national seminar on fluoride contamination in Udaipur in 1999. An official release issued here today pointed out that various Government departments and voluntary organisations had implemented the programme following the recommendations made in the seminar.
The handpump attachable defluoridation units have now been evolved with the cooperation of a voluntary organisation, Health Care, at a cost lower than that of the community defluoridation plant, which involves a complex operation procedure.
The task force on sustainable development appointed by the State Government decided to install the low-cost units in 100 fluorosis-affected villages. Later, the Public Health Engineering Department came forward to install them in 35 more villages in Tonk and Sirohi districts.
The release stated that the equipment were functioning in the two districts under the UNICEF-assisted "Apna Gaon Swachch Gaon" (our village, clean village) project. Over 40 units were also installed in other villages under the "Vigyan Gram Yojana" of the S&T Department.
The department has emphasised the need for publicising the scheme so that the success of the new technology can be replicated elsewhere. Senior officials of the department have suggested that the handpump users’ groups be formed and the maintenance work be entrusted to the local community. A comparative study of the technique may also be made to compile the health-related information.