Safe Drinking Water

Around 14 districts in West Bengal suffer from high levels of arsenic in the ground water. Arsenic is a naturally occurring and very toxic substance found in high concentrations in the ground water around the Ganges delta. Ground water is the major source of drinking water for most people in the rural area, which is generally used for drinking and cooking, thus causing a public health problem.
Constant usage of Arsenic contaminated water often leads to Arsenic Poisoning, which causes skin cancers, skin lesions, internal cancers, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, peripheral vascular disease and can also be life threatening. Since arsenic is a colourless, odourless substance the villagers are not sensitive to the dangers of consuming contaminated water over a the long term.

Therefore the main aim of the CR Arsenic Project is to to provide safe drinking water in some of worst affected villages in West Bengal and to generate awareness amongst the people on dangers of arsenic poisoning. In August 2003, Calcutta Rescue started a pilot water filtration project - installing 4 filters and tube wells in the Malda area, a district, 300 km North of Kolkata. Another 8 filters have been added to the existing ones to cater to the ever growing needs of the villagers. The existing filters currently provide over 20,000 litres of uncontaminated drinking water per day. With the support of local Panchayats (village councils) and local organizations, Calcutta Rescue has trained villagers in the use and maintenance of these units to ensure their long-term sustainability. To date, Calcutta Rescue has installed 12 Community Arsenic / Iron Removal Filters along with dedicated tube wells at Bamongram & Mosimpore Gram (Village) Panchayat in Malda District of West Bengal. Nearly 1500 families access these filters. Recently the pumps have been electrified, and this has lead to an exponential increase in the usage and quality of the water from these filters.