Friday, October 08, 2010

A Tale of an Indian Village

“The soul of India lives in its villages” – this was what Father of our Nation Mahatma Gandhi has to say about the villages in India. Many years have passed by after Mahatma made this statement and still that statement makes lots of sense. But are we taking care of the soul of India properly? We talk about the economic growth, GDP, foreign reserves, India becoming a super power soon etc but we can really grow without taking care of our soul – the villages in India? Aren’t they still in a very bad condition due to lack of scientific development and rapid urbanization?
Other week I along with my colleagues of Environmental Engineering department and handful of our students had a chance to visit a village twenty kilometers away from Vellore. The Christian Medical College (CMC) doctors have found that the drinking water system in this village is heavily contaminated with microbes and people are drinking contaminated water. The purpose of our visit was to study the water distribution system of that village and suggest engineering solutions to the problem.
The stupid “caste system” that is a curse for India is written all over this village. This village with a population of around 1200 people has two parts – a main village and an adjacent area demarcated for lower caste as “Harijan Colony”. The conditions of both these areas were pathetic but the condition of Harijan colony was pathetic beyond words. The main village has water supply for two hours while the Harijan colony has water supply for an hour a day. The storage tank in main village is double the size even though the population in main village is much less than Harijan colony. If you are unfortunate to born in the Harijan colony you are destined to use less water!
The villagers especially that in Harijan village collects drinking water from the main pipe by making a pit below the ground. See below the photo of a typical pit, the pipe from which water is collected and cap that is used to cover the pipe when it is not in use. The cap used in not water tight at all.
The open pit where the villagers collect the water. The cap covering the pipe is not water tight
Now see the photo below. There is a big open pit (that itself can be source of many diseases) that collects all the waste from couple of house that is never drained anywhere. See about 25 feet north of it there is an open pit with an open tap. What happens if a heavy rainfall occurs? The water from this big open pit flows into the pit made for collecting drinking water possibly contaminating the entire water distribution system.
A sewer pit on onside and drinking water pit on other side
Now the Harijan village has open sanitary sewer that runs perpendicular to the main entrance of each house. Also the water line made of plastic is crossing all over the place. See one such crossing below. If a small leak happens in the plastic pipe that is enough to contaminate the entire water distribution system. 
A pipe line crossing a sanitary sewer!
Another interesting thing – the metal stairs below is the access stairs to the overhead tank. The tank is supposed to be cleaned and chlorinated every fifteen days. Seeing the photo do you think that the tank is cleaned or chlorinated in the distant past? The stairs have rusted and it is almost impossible to climb to the top. When asked we were told that no cleaning was done for more than six months.
Stairs to the Water Storage Tank
The worst thing that struck me was that these villagers have no idea about the quality of water they are drinking. They get sick often but has not choice other than to use this water to daily needs. Now our aim is to make this a model village in Tamil Nadu by improving the drinking water and sanitary facilities and we hope we can make a difference in the life of these underprivileged people so that the “soul is India” can be given a rebirth.
Join the Facebook Page of my Blog

Labels: , , , , ,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Enter You Email to Subscribe this Blog


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

4 Comments:

Anonymous keralafarmer said...

The water supply system can't save drinking water. The responsibility to maintain the quality of ground water is a must by each individual. To reduce the heavily contaminated with microbes what we have to do? Mainly E.coli bacteria from sewage waste. It can be treated through a bio gas plant. Slery from the bio gas plat is an organic manure for Agriculture. Harijan colony with limited land for each land owner can't maintain it individually. A collective system is required to maintain it to save the soil and water. The man made environmental pollution can be rectified or not?

October 08, 2010 4:58 AM  
Blogger thiru said...

Nair,
Good article!!!! This is the case even in chennai city. Even near the place where I lived the sewer and drainage has not been solved. The guys across our house annexed a vacant "unauthorized" land and blocked the whole drainage system. Since he is lawyer by proffesion none of the residents could do anything at all...This is the case everywhere in the city. No planning what so ever.

October 08, 2010 6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nair,
Good article!!!! This is the case even in chennai city. Even near the place where I lived the sewer and drainage has not been solved. The guys across our house annexed a vacant "unauthorized" land and blocked the whole drainage system. Since he is lawyer by proffesion none of the residents could do anything at all...This is the case everywhere in the city. No planning what so ever.

October 08, 2010 6:46 AM  
Blogger scorpiogenius said...

This doesn't shock me just becoz we've seen it all before. The condition is same in many many places, even in Kerala. I noted many similar things during my Community Medicine field work during student period and also when I was teaching the same.

Planning is the primary issue to sort out here. Well, we could point towards the caste system as well but is it any different in our cities where all the hi-flyers dwell? KWA water lines and sewage pipe use the same utility duct on many avenues. But its not as brutal as you've depicted here...

October 08, 2010 8:25 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Google