BARMER, Rajasthan (January 2015): Hundreds of villages in the desert district of Barmer will receive clean and safe drinking water as part of Cairn India's CSR initiative. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 7 January 2016 between the Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) of Rajasthan and Cairn Enterprise Centre Society. As per the MoU, water purification plants will be established and maintained to provide clean and safe drinking water to more than 800 villages in Barmer.
The MoU was signed in presence of Principal Secretary PHED, J C Mohanty and Manoj Aggarwal the Head of CSR, Cairn India. Given that the Barmer district has an acute shortage of quality drinking water with available underground water being unsuitable for drinking (highly saline total dissolved solids (TDS) content >3,000 with high fluoride content), there are several prevalent water borne diseases that impact the quality of life. These also lead to a high incidence of diarrhoea, which in turn leads to a high Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) as well as Maternal Mortality (MMR) in the area, besides widespread incidence of fluorosis, etc.
Hence, Cairn has planned a major CSR intervention to support the Government of Rajasthan (GoR) on water treatment to make the available water safe for drinking and ensuring delivery of the safe drinking water to households.
Cairn’s intervention to provide safe drinking water to the community focuses on the Barmer district, part of the Thar Desert, said to be the most densely populated arid zone in the world with a population density of ~90 people per square km. Temperatures can reach more than 50 oC during summer.
Accordingly, Cairn India initiated the Jeevan Amrit pilot project in collaboration with PHED, GoR, to ensure safe drinking water to the communities in the districts of Barmer and Jalore through the establishment of RO facilities. Cairn is now substantially increasing the scale and scope of the project. In partnership with PHED, GoR, Cairn will establish as many as 333 water purification units across the district over three years; this would impact as many as a million-plus people.
At present, for the pilot project, Water Committee is responsible for collecting all user charges and operations and maintenance of the RO facility. The model Cairn has adopted ensures widespread distribution at the point of consumption. Water ATW (Any-time Water) kiosks have been established at a number of access points; the community is provided with pre-paid smart cards with which they can access water at their convenience in a manner similar to the access provided by bank ATM machines.
In addition, Cairn has partnered with a few local entrepreneurs to run a ‘water on wheels’ system (called jal rath). Power availability remains unreliable in some areas in Barmer; to address this issue, Cairn is providing for solar-powered RO plants in this project.
These plants allow for remote monitoring in which the health of the plant and quality of water can easily be monitored though SMS alerts or through the Android™ platform. This provides real-time access of crucial parameters such as TDS levels, input and output water quality and flow rates etc., ensuring quick action can be taken in case of any issue.
The initiative will involve setting up of 333 small scale Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants (1,000 to 3,000 litres per hour capacity) over the next three years to provide safe drinking water to a large number of people (estimated in excess of 1 million) living in ~800 villages.