Researcher Syed Mumtazuddin is ready to put to good use his finding that a few leaves of mango and jamun tree can purify arsenic and flouride laced water, which affects millions across the country.
A university don in Bihar is taking to the masses the handiest of solutions to the problem of contamination of drinking water with excessive arsenic, fluoride and iron content, which afflicts an estimated 13 million people spread across eight states, including Bihar and Jharkhand.Research carried out by Syed Mumtazuddin, a university professor of chemistry and an expert in phyto-chemistry (plant research), has found all you need to purify contaminated water is to soak leaves of mango, jamun and neem trees in it for a few hours!
The finding has been published in several journals, including the paper titled, ‘Removal of arsenic using mango, java plum and neem tree barks’, which appeared in International Journal of advances in Pharmacy, Biology and Chemistry (IJAPBC), in 2012.
“What these leaves do is to absorb the contaminants, leaving the water in a fit state for drinking”, explained Mumtazuddin, posted at present as vice-chancellor of the Veer Kuer Singh university (VKSU), headquartered at Ara in Bhojpur district of south-central Bihar.
Now, the VKSU, under its community extension programme initiated by Mumtazuddin, is all set to launch its ‘Lab to homes’ mission, aimed at demonstrating to the people at large the simplest ways of removing contaminants from drinking water.
Under the mission, teams of teachers of chemistry department, assisted by researchers and post graduate (PG) students, from the VKSU will fan out among the people to demonstrate how a few green leaves of mango and jamun trees can purify the water used for drinking and other purposes, by absorbing the contaminants.
Several districts of Bihar, including Bhojpur and Buxar, falling under the academic jurisdiction of VKSU, are proposed to be covered under the ‘Lab to home’ mission. These districts are known to be severely affected by arsenic poisoning.
The university departments of chemistry and botany were also working to develop a simple model to be carried by the visiting teams for demonstration to villagers.
Mumtazuddin said the VKSU initiative mainly drew upon the findings of research he had carried out between 1996 and 2014 when he was serving as a university level professor of chemistry at the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University, headquartered at Muzaffarpur in north Bihar.
“Seeing the alarming levels of some contaminants like arsenic, fluoride and iron in ground waters affecting lakhs of people in the state, we decided to take the findings of our research work to common people. Sending out experts with mango and jamun leaves is the first step towards that end,” he said.
According to a report released in March 2015 by the union ministry of drinking water and sanitation, 46 million people in India are exposed every day to contaminated water – arsenic, fluoride, iron or nitrate contaminate water in 78,508 rural habitations. Arsenic poisons the water in 1,991 of these habitations, adds the report.
The World Health Organization recommends that water for drinking and irrigation should have less than 50 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic to be considered safe.
According to the Arghyam website, around 13 million people across eight states – West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Odisha, are exposed to arsenic contamination that is greater than 50 ppb.