GUWAHATI, Aug 2 - A brainstorming session organised by the Public Health Engineering Department Retired Engineers� Forum (PREF) here recently on the reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment process, called for steps to declare a precise state drinking water policy and preparation of a roadmap in achieving the goal of universal and affordable �safe drinking water for all� by 2030, said a press release here today.
The participants were of the opinion that commercialisation of drinking water supply is quite contrary to the principle of universal and affordable safe drinking water for all by 2030, which is a target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and Assam Vision 2030.
Government inefficiencies and absence of accountability towards their commitment have been providing the opportunity to market forces to govern the drinking water sector. For protecting water, the renewable natural resource from exploitation, safeguarding interest of future generations and consumers, there is a strong need for an appropriate policy with a regulatory mechanism, the participants maintained.
They maintained that equitable and universal access to drinking water, adequate in terms of both quantity and quality, should be provided to all members of society viewing this as a basic human right of the people. They reminded that access to water has been acknowledged as a fundamental human right by the United Nations General Assembly.
The participants maintained that providing safe drinking water in both rural and urban areas, is listed as a State subject. As such, the government must translate its commitment for delivering safe water to each and every household into reality. Despite the substantial investment of taxpayers� money, the government-sponsored programmes have miserably failed to deliver safe water as per the commitments, making the life of the people vulnerable to water-borne diseases, they said.
Craziness for water ATMs (with RO/nanotechnology) as a smart showcasing of technological development, has become a growing trend. But, it needs more critical review and hence, large-scale marketing of water in the name of easy point of use (like water ATM) facilities should be stopped forthwith, said the participants.
They asserted that the RO water treatment process in supplying safe drinking water to the people may be adopted as the last resort, after exhausting all other possible options, pointing to the fact that various dos and don�ts are also associated with proper selection of the RO units and their operation and maintenance. Moreover, users of the RO units should be properly educated about the same, they observed.
The RO water treatment process is costly and beyond the affordable capacity of the economically weaker sections. RO cannot be considered an ideal solution to address the equitable issue of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which emphasises �no one should be left behind�.
Besides, RO technology is relatively complicated, efficient functioning of which depends on various factors, namely feed water pressure, feed water quality, temperature and quality of membrane, many of which are not under the control of the consumers. The RO treatment process also leads to huge water and energy wastage.
Along with undesirable contaminants, the RO treatment process also removes beneficial minerals. Health impact of long-term consumption of water treated by applying the RO process, needs careful study, said the participants.
Four experts made presentations at the session. They included former PHE chief engineer PK Chakraborty, engineer NK Sarma, Associate Professor of the Gauhati University Department of Chemistry Dr RJ Sarma and former PHE chief engineer AB Paul.
The other experts and participants including Dr KP Sarma, Dr DK Kakati, Dr SK Gogoi, Dr RK Deka, Dr BK Goswami, B Das and S Buragohain, took part in the interactive session.