Here is good news for the water-starved Uttarakhand. After more than four years of experiments and research, a European Union river bank filtration (RBF) project has ignited new hopes to end the perennial drinking water problem in the hills.
In what is being seen as a breakthrough, scientists and engineers have now successfully installed the riverbank filtration network at hilly areas like Satpuli and Srinagar towns in Pauri district.
The RBF is an age-old European technique under which soil alongside rivers naturally removes harmful microbes and organic material as water passes through it. Through this process, the filtered groundwater is obtained from aquifers that are hydraulically connected to rivers and lakes. Wells are dug on the river banks to pump safe water out.
Under the Rs 8-crore project, sanctioned by the department of science and technology (DST), the Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan, the state-run drinking water supply agency, had identified five sites in the hills in order to provide safe drinking water. These sites are Srinagar town on Alaknanda river, Satpuli on Nayar, Augustmuni on Mandakini, Karanprayag on Pinder and Rurdraprayag on Alaknanda. “In most of these sites, our experiments have been successful,” said P C Kimothi, Secretary Appraisal of the Jal Sansthan.
Significantly, most of the hilly areas in Uttarakhand, despite being home to India’s top rivers like Ganga and Yamuna, face severe drinking water problem as hundreds of rivulets and streams had dried up across the state. Despite spending crores of rupees every year, the government had not been able to provide a long-standing solution to the vexed problem.
“We are glad to announce that we have made a breakthrough in riverbank filtration project at Satpuli and Srinagar which can now be replicated in other hilly areas also,” said Kimothi, who is also working on the project.
In 2006, IIT Roorkee joined hands with a Dresden university and Dusseldorf water company in Germany to start the project at Haridwar where they successfully removed the chemicals and impurities from the river water. The technique also got national urban water award 2009 from the centre. “We are really looking forward to this technique having the potential to end the water crisis in our state,” said Drinking water Minister Prakash Pant.