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 vi lagers 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)
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.For further information:
36, Chitrakut Twins,
Nehru Park, Vastrapur
Tel: 079-6751023, 6763624
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