GUWAHATI, Sept 4 - The PHE Retired Engineers� Forum (PREF) has expressed concern over the move to install water ATMs at several places across the State, including Guwahati, with the Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment system.
The forum said that the RO treatment process might be adopted as the last resort, after exhausting all other possible options. Moreover, it said that commercialisation of drinking water is quite contrary to the principle of universal and affordable safe drinking water for all by 2030.
The forum maintained that the government�s inefficiency and absence of accountability towards its commitment in matters of providing safe drinking water, in both rural and urban areas, have been providing opportunities to market forces to dominate the drinking water sector.
It may be mentioned here that experts at a brainstorming session organised by the PREF in the city recently referred to the Assam Vision-2030, in which the State government reiterated its commitment towards providing universal and equitable access to safe drinking water to all households and habitations by 2030.
But, the speakers at the session lamented that there has been a shift in the avowed stand of the State government in this respect, and an increased dependency on the Reverse Osmosis (RO) water treatment process in both domestic and community levels in the rural and urban areas of the State is now seen.
They maintained that in driving this shift in the government stand, market forces seem to have contributed more dominantly rather than in the interest of consumers or the public.
The RO system requires pre-treatment using both mechanical and chemical methods to prevent its fouling, scaling and membrane failure and to avoid frequent cleaning exercises. Moreover, RO removes natural minerals up to 95 per cent, and, hence, RO-treated water is typically acidic and subsequently results in negative impact of more acid in consumers� bodies.
The experts said that RO also fails to help maintain the delicate alkaline balance. To alkalize the RO-treated water, one has to add calcium and other minerals to it. The health risks associated with the consumption of water with low mineral content calls for re-mineralisation, which has been highlighted by the WHO.
They also pointed towards the limitations of nanotechnology in this regard.