AMAL Arsenic Removal Filter- North 24 Paraganas, West Bengal

AMAL Filters, North 24 Parganas, WB

Introduction:

The unit is situated at Jaygachhi colony in Habra-I block (of Habra Municipality) in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. This community-level AMAL Arsenic Removal Unit (ARU) is working effectively for more than 6 years serving safe water to the 453 families residing in the colony. Initially the Arsenic Removal Filter was attached to a hand pump, which later on was converted to a pumped system by the water committee.

Date of Installation: 21st Nov’ 2005

The test result of hand pump water (12.10.2005):

Arsenic concentration: 0.08mg/L and Iron concentration: 4.12mg/

Background: A rural club was formed at Jaygachhi colony about 40 years back.  The name of this club is ‘Milan Tirtha’. The club is has a membership of about 112 which includes both males and females.  The club is engaged in different social activities towards benefit of the local population like coaching centre for football, art, and dance, yoga for children and a library and a medical clinic. The club later on took the initiative towards providing clean and arsenic safe water to its residents. In this connection ‘Jaygachhi Milantirtha Amal Filter Management Committee’ was formed which actively managed the Community-Based Arsenic removal Filter since 2005.

The local population is trying to find means to expand the capacity of their filter and offer safe drinking water to all the people of the locality.

  1. Formation of Water Committee: After installation the unit was handed over to the community i.e. owned by the beneficiaries and managed by local water committee (Jaygachhi Amal Jal Samity). The initial installation cost for the Arsenic Removal unit was borne by Water For People. The maintenance costs (replacement of spares, minor plumbing, regeneration/replacement of spent alumina, caretaker’s remuneration, water test charge, etc.) are sourced from the beneficiaries by way of levying a monthly charge per family. The water committee consists of 21 members and 75% of them are women. The management of the committee is very transparent. It maintains consolidated revenue and expenditure account and also a consolidated receipts and payment account. All the planning and decision taking are done through formal meetings held once every month with proper minutes.
  2. Number of households benefitted: Each household has been a card for collecting the safe water from ARU.
  3. Water test: Water quality monitoring is an important aspect to ensure safe water for the community. The water committee sends samples of filtered water at regular intervals to the water test laboratory. The result of filtered water also indicates the need for regeneration of media.Water test results of six months:
      Aug’11 Sept’11 Oct’11 Nov’11 Dec’11 Jan’12
    Arsenic concentrationin Filtered water ( mg/L) 0.03 0.012 0.008 0.01 0.01 0.00
  4. Regeneration/ replacement of exhausted Activated Alumina: Replacement                  (new media) was done in 2009 with funds from the water committee.
  5. Care Taker: One female care taker is selected for maintenance and operation of the ARU like cleaning of the water collection area, regular backwash of the filter, etc. She is paid Rs. 1000 per month as honorarium by the water committee. Sometimes another lady volunteers in collecting tariff from the users, issuance of water card to households, etc.
  6. Upgradation of the Unit: After installation of the unit the committee arranged for construction of a suitable platform, fencing, shed for the unit, and drainage facilities etc. In December, 2010, the committee a motorized pump connection was installed that runs on electricity in place of hand pump. The Committee is also planning to upgrade the unit to a 2-filter system to cater to more number of users.
  7. Water Tariff: The operation and maintenance costs are sourced from the beneficiaries by way of levying a monthly tariff per household. Water tariff has increased after the installation of the motorized pump from Rs.15 to Rs.20 per household per month. Each household is allowed to collect 20 litres of water per tariff card.
  8. Water committee fund:
    Revenue: In addition to the monthly water tariff, the committee also       generated additional fund through water supply to wedding ceremonies,     caterers, restaurants, and tea-stalls etc.

Expenditure:

Particulars Year- 2006-07 Year-2007-08 Year- 2008-09 Year-2009-10 Year-2010-11 Year2011-2012
Expenses Rs53731 Rs.72807 Rs.98250 Rs.130810 Rs.93810 Rs.86055

In the month of Deceember’2011: Income from water tariff: Rs.9080 and expenses: Rs. 2025 Bank balance: Rs. 50000(Jan’12)

The committee bears the remuneration of the caretaker, cost of cleaning the over tank, replacing activated Alumina, replacing spare parts of the filter, water quality test at regular interval. The expenditure of the committee is about Rs. 2000 per month on an average. Surplus funds in the water account were used for social service activities like book distribution to needy students, conducting blood donation camp, drawing competition, football tournament etc. throughout the year.

Water vending: There are three Rickshaw-van drivers who supply water to 180 households outside of Jaygachhi, about 2- 5 km away from water treatment plant. They are happy to earn Rs.4000/- to Rs.6000/ per month and getting festival bonus like cash amount or dress materials.

Benefit derived from the arsenic mitigation programme:

  • Approximate 2500 people are avoiding risk from arsenic poisoning by using safe water which in turn is helping in minimizing healthcare costs
  • School children from an adjacent primary are also getting safe water and their mid-day meal in school is being cooked with arsenic-safe water. The water committee supplies water to the school without any charge
  • Creation of employment (caretakers, water-carriers, water facilitator, plumber, water-container seller, etc.)
  • Women empowerment
  • Awareness about safe water handling to school children who also invariably take the message home
  • Creation of public infrastructure and events
  • People no longer have to go far off places to fetch safe water
  • The facility is maintained merely by the redistribution of the economic surplus on an entire neighborhood

Perception of the users:

Technology: Operation and maintenance is simple and friendly for the community and also at a low cost. Care taker and Water Committee work in tandem.

  • The quality of water is clean & arsenic free
  • Palatable and pleasing to drink
  • Reducing the health symptoms like gastric problem, anorexia as well as medical expenditure and lost man days in procuring water from other sources

Strength: 

  • Awareness level of the community is favorable
  • Involvement of the club members in running safe water facilities
  • Gradual increase in the number of users which also indicates sustainability

Weakness:

  • Too much dependency on the volunteer woman for collecting water tariff

Sustainability and ownership: The water treatment unit is owned by the community and increase in the number of users indicate that the project is sustainable

Future plan: Installation of additional arsenic treatment unit from their reserve fund to cater to the increasing number of users

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