October 27, 2008

Arsenic-free water supply in West Bengal by 2011

400 plants being developed in nine affected districts

BARASAT (North 24 Parganas): The West Bengal government aims to build arsenic-removal plants for the of supply arsenic-free drinking water by 2010-11 in all the 69 blocks across nine districts, said Kumar Jyoti Nath, chairman of the Arsenic Task Force of the State government.

Mr. Nath said that 400 arsenic-removal plants were being developed across the nine districts that would supply arsenic-free groundwater to people through a pipe network. Each plant would cater to the demand of about three villages.

About 16 million people living in rural areas and another 12 million in urban areas of the Gangetic West Bengal were at risk as the groundwater there was arsenic contaminated, he said.“Beside these plants, 12 mega water-filter plants are also being developed under the Central government’s Swajaldhara scheme that will purify the surface water, especially river water, for domestic supply,” Mr. Nath said. Each of these mega plants would cater to around one million people.

A delegation comprising German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, and German Ambassador Bernd Miitzelburg, visited an arsenic-removal plant here on Friday.

This plant and 60 others in various parts of the State, developed under an Indo-German public-private partnership project, have used the technology of the German Technological Cooperation.
Ninety per cent of the project is being funded by the Federal Republic of Germany.

“West Bengal is the first State in the country where such an initiative has been taken up and it has already benefited around one lakh people till now,” said Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul.

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