Balisana means laden with sand. The village in the dry Patan district
of Gujarat has been under the acute grip of fluoride pollution amidst
drought. Almost all of the villagers from early to middle aged population
are suffering from fluorosis or other fluoride related diseases.
Six years back, the villagers started a community drive to solve
the crisis, with help from Ahmedabad-based non governmental organisation,
UTTHAN. The villagers started to desilt a 3.05 metre (m) long canal
through which they diverted rainwater to a 300-year-old tank. About
82,000 cubic metre of silt has been extracted from the tank at a
cost of Rs 52 lakh. Sixty per cent of the cost came from the government,
40 per cent was community shramdaan (voluntary labour). A 12 kilo
meter long bund was reconstructed to hold the diverted rainwater.
Adjacent to the tank, is a 45 m deep recharge well that was fitted
with an ultra-poly vinyl chloride (high density pipe). The horizontal
pipe carries water from the tank to the recharge well. Water from
the well is pumped into a storage tank near the well. (see figure:
Harvesting rain to fight flouride in Balisana village Catch Water.
A 12 year old dead well nearby has got water now that is also free
from fluoride. This water is increasingly used by villagers for
drinking purposes. According to the villagers, since last 20 years
groundwater extraction has been increasing, due to which the fluoride
contents have creeped into the groundwater.
The woes of the villagers are not only related to drinking water
but are also with the crops they grow - as they are also laden with
traces of fluoride. At present, they have no solution. But they
hope to solve this problem by regularly recharging the groundwater
table with rainwater.The villagers have evolved laws to protect
the resource like, no new tube wells will be dug and water from
the well will be first used for drinking purposes and then can be
used for irrigation.
December 2002: When the CSE
researcher last visited the village in December, 2002 the villagers
were constructing a new pond for irrigation purposes in 3 hectares
of land. Balisana has inspired nearby villages which are planning
now similar works in their villages also.
For further information:
36, Chitrakut Twins,
Nehru Park, Vastrapur
Tel: 079-6751023, 6763624