|Role of State govt appreciated in Delhi meet|
GUWAHATI, March 3 - A four-day session on making drinking water in India arsenic and fluoride free called for steps to formulate a systematic approach to water quality-related problems in the country and a national water quality mission. The session was jointly organised by the INREM Foundation, Ahmedabad and SaciWaters, Hyderabad at New Delhi between February 25 and 28, 2019, with support from the European Union, said a press release here today.
The idea of a national mission under the nomenclature– Rashtriya Jal Swasthya Mission–was articulated and widely discussed among a range of organisations like the UNICEF, the European Union, Union Ministry of Drinking Water, SATTVA, Water Aid, India Water Portal, PSI, Arghyam, Safe Billion, INREM Foundation, among others, during the session.
The initiative to set up the Assam Fluorosis Mitigation Support Centre (AFMSC), a facility conceived under an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the WSSO /PHED with the INREM, and the role of the Assam Government were highly appreciated by the participants of the session. So far AFMSCs have been set up in four districts of the State.
The participants of the session were told that three other states – Rajasthan, Telangana and Odisha – are now carrying out fluorosis mitigation activities in line with Assam. AB Paul, a retired Chief Engineer of the Assam Public Health Engineering Department (PHED), is now heading the INREM in Assam as its Regional Director. He led the Assam team in the session and strongly demanded establishment of arsenic mitigation support centres in the two arsenic focus districts – Jorhat and Nalbari at the earliest.
Fluoride and arsenic are the two major drinking water-related problems in the country and they are affecting nearly 100 million people in over 20 states, including Assam. A people-centric district water quality platform for addressing fluorosis-related issues is an emerging approach, being tested out in six states of the country by Fluoride Knowledge and Action Network (FKAN). These states include– Assam, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
The Arsenic Knowledge and Action Network (AKAN) similarly tested out the above idea in four districts of the two states of Bihar and Assam. The primary goal of each of these water quality platforms is to make the districts fluorosis and arsenicosis free in specified time duration. In Assam, Nalbari and Jorhat districts are targeted for the purpose, said the press release.