At a time when you buy a one-litre bottle of mineral water for Rs15, villagers in Pune district’s Shirur taluka are a lucky lot. They pay a price as low as 50paise to Re1 for purified drinking water which is delivered at their doorstep.
This has been made possible for residents of 25 villages in the taluka, thanks to an initiative by an all-women non-governmental organisation, Swayam Siddha Mahila Utkarsha Sanstha located about 45km from Pune city.
The organisation also helps villages where infrastructure to purify water is not available. It has also collaborated with the National Chemical Laboratory to acquire a technology that treats raw water and purifies it. It consists of a multi-stage water filtration unit, based on an ultra-filtration membrane, that can remove microbiological and viral contamination from water.
The filtration system runs with the support of an automobile engine. A suction pipe, which is dipped in the water source, allows it to pass through a multi-stage filtration system and finally through the purification membrane.
Speaking to DNA, Siddharth Jadhav, in-charge of the organisation’s training and and human resources, said, “To run this unit, we would have needed more electricity. But since power supply in our area is irregular, we developed a system that can be operated with an automobile engine. As a result, we saved electricity as well.”
The unit purifies water from any surface water source like a lake, river or well and, hence, more applicable for rural areas. Pure and filtered water is delivered to villagers by cabs. However, the per-litre price may go up due to increase in transportation cost.
“Villagers can barely afford to buy a bottle of mineral water. But now, we are providing them pure water at affordable rates. We have been supplying drinking water to residents of as many as 25 villagers on a daily basis for the last three years. And it is delivered by women who drive cabs loaded with barrels of purified drinking water to villages. This has generated income source for many women,” said Jadhav.