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Ideas For India

Jul 05, 2004
People-sized desalination

In true Government tradition though, this profound innovation is hidden from all view. The CMSCRI site is an opaque mess with no usable information. Main media is busy headlining the firing of Brahmos missile or the like, and has no space in front-pages for a development like this one. Exceptionally, the New India Express has carried an article by Seema Singh on the subject. There is also a nice picture on view there.

This article is intended to provoke problem-solving individuals and therefore is full of leads they may wish to pursue. To begin with, reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing up to 95% of fluorides in water. You can verify that here. We next discover that manually operated desalinators have been known to mariners and the military for a long time. Katadyn, a Swiss company has been making them for over 75 years. Admittedly their hand-operated desalinator is for survival only but in the villages of Nalagonda, we are talking about survival, aren’t we? IDRC, Canada working with a different brand of manual desalinators in Botswana, found that people there experienced maintenance problems. But distributing a 1000 of these devices in AP would by now have created enough skills locally, to maintain them and some jobs as well, for young men. Such a solution would have been ‘here and now’ than the long wait for piped water from a distant canal at a huge expense. Katadyn also makes an electric model that consumes just 50 watts at 12 volts, making it suitable for running off solar panels. This produces 6 litres per hour. It can also revert to manual operation in emergencies. Katadyn is so confident about the sturdiness of this model, that it guarantees it for 3 years.

With all the foregoing information, we arrive at an idea for India. Can’t the issue of water in distressed villages be solved through mini-businesses run by self help groups using manual, animal or power driven desalinators? Some hand-holding may be required at induction time but given native ingenuity, with a profit element also thrown in, we might have avoided Nalagonda-like tragedy and shame.

It is information that solves problems, not just money. And it is the responsibility of informed Indians to provide this to those in need. 

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