The Public Health and Engineering Department (PHED) of Rajasthan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the private sector petroleum exploration company, Cairn India to to provide clean and safe drinking water to over 800 villages in the desert district of Barmer. As per the MoU, water purification plants will be established and maintained by Cairn India’s social enterprise, Cairn Enterprise Centre Society.
The MoU was signed by JC Mohanty, Principal Secretary PHED and Manoj Aggarwal, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Cairn India. Given that the Barmer district has a shortage of quality drinking water with available underground water being unsuitable for drinking. There are several prevalent water borne diseases that impact the quality of life. These also lead to a high incidence of diarrhoea, which in turn leads to a high Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) as well as Maternal Mortality (MMR) in the area, besides widespread incidence of fluorosis, etc.
Hence, Cairn India has planned a major CSR intervention to support the Government of Rajasthan (GoR) on water treatment to make the available water safe for drinking and ensuring delivery of the safe drinking water to households.
The initiative will involve setting up of 333 small scale reverse osmosis (RO) plants (1,000 to 3,000 litres per hour capacity) over the next three years to provide safe drinking water to a large number of people, estimated in excess of one million, living in 800 villages.
Cairn’s intervention to provide safe drinking water to the community focuses on the Barmer district, part of the Thar Desert, said to be the most densely populated arid zone in the world with a population density of 90 people per square km.
Accordingly, Cairn India initiated the Jeevan Amrit project in collaboration with PHED, GoR, to ensure safe drinking water to the communities in the districts of Barmer and Jalore through the establishment of RO facilities. Due to the extremely positive community feedback, Cairn is now substantially increasing the scale and scope of the project.
At present, for the project, Water Committee is responsible for collecting all user charges and operations and maintenance of the RO facility. The model Cairn has adopted ensures widespread distribution at the point of consumption. Water ATW (Any-time Water) kiosks have been established at a number of access points; the community is provided with pre-paid smart cards with which they can access water at their convenience.
In addition, Cairn has partnered with a few local entrepreneurs to run a ‘water on wheels’ system, called jal rath. Power availability remains unreliable in some areas in Barmer; to address this issue, Cairn is providing for solar-powered RO plants in this project.