Silchar, June 30: Access to potable drinking water has been perhaps the biggest predicaments that people of Silchar faced in the devastating flood which swept across the urban sprawl and sub-urban areas affecting over 2 lakh people.
Packaged drinking water bottles and water sachets were sent along with relief materials, but not all of them reached the marooned, be it in the town or in the fringe areas.
In this backdrop, UNICEF in association with Oxfam India and District Disaster Management Authority Cachar joined to develop boat-mounted water treatment units to distribute drinking water to flood victims across Silchar and it's peripheral areas.
Dr. Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Assam and spokesperson, in an official media release said "at a time when homes across urban and rural areas of the district have been submerged due to the unprecedented flood, clean and safe drinking water supply is the need of the hour. To ensure safe access to drinking water to vulnerable populations, UNICEF Assam along with DDMA Cachar and partner Oxfam India have installed four filtration units – two units are deployed in Katigorah Revenue Circle, one in Silchar town and the fourth unit in Sonai Revenue Circle. The units can produce 700 to 1,000 litres of water per hour. Each unit can cater to 100-150 households (4,500-6,750 people) living within 500 meters of the unit, for basic needs such as cooking and hygiene."
Highlighting the technical aspects of the water treatment units, Dr Jonathan mentioned in the release that the system draws water from an available source. The water passes through a pre-filtration candle that can filter particles and micro-organisms up to the size of 5-micron. The filtered water then passes through an ultra-membrane filter candle of 0.23-micron size. The water gets treated using online chlorination that ensures it is safe for consumption. The system can be operated manually and using Honda Pumps. The current system uses a Honda Petrol Pump. This is a suitable water treatment system with backwash and cleaning capacity of cartridge candles, which lasts up to 125,000 litres of water. This system can take on raw water with a turbidity level of 100 NTU and produce 700 to 1,000 litres of water per hour, depending on the turbidity level of the water. It has the capacity of producing treated water of <5 NTU turbidity and a log 6 removal of harmful bacteria, the release stated.
Dr Jonathan further informed that they are working closely with DDMA and PHED in planning, coordination and site identification. "The running cost such as fuel, boat etc have been borne by DDMA, while our partner, Oxfam India is operating the system," Dr Jonathan added.
It was on 9 June 2022 that the first AquaPlus 700 Filtration unit was installed in Rajeshwarpur 2 village and a group of six women were trained on installation, functioning and maintenance of the unit. A committee on water, sanitation and hygiene was created to promote safe water and hygiene behaviours to the villagers, the release said.