Need low cost techniques for removing fluoride contamination in ground waters of Rajasthan

From Kanishk Negi, Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development (SPWD), Udaipur, Rajasthan
Posted: 29 September 2006

I work in the western arid zone of India with the Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development (SPWD) on issues related to water, forestry and land.

Members are aware that an increasingly large number of villages and habitations now suffer from Fluoride contamination. Fluorosis causes deterioration of bones and joints, thereby increasing medical expenditure and in some areas like Rajasthan, has prevented people from marrying their daughters in a village where drinking water is contaminated.

The root cause of fluoride contamination is firstly, using water from deeper aquifers and secondly, underground geology (availability of rocks rich in fluoride content) with no relation to the aquifer level. The current practice to deal with fluorosis involves diversion of cleaner surface water from lesser-affected regions to more affected ones. However, this is not a long-term solution and may cause conflicts as scarcity increases.

In order to find a sustainable solution for this problem, SPWD is developing a programme following the approach of increasing ground water levels to dilute the concentration of fluoride, complemented by reducing the amount of water extraction. This would involve artificial recharge of ground water, limiting the draft, harvesting alternate sources like rainwater harvesting and enhancing the immune system of the people.

In the above background, I request members to share their experience on the following:

  • Information on centers involved in testing blood serum and urine samples for fluoride concentration, preferably near Rajasthan.
  • Low cost/indigenous techniques for treating fluoride-contaminated water, keeping in mind that limited maintenance is possible in rural areas.
  • Experiences of other NGOs, government or donors in resolving the fluoride contamination issue in other parts of India.
  • Information on resource agencies to provide technical, financial and strategic support to upscale the learnings of our fluoride contamination programme.

Please see attachment below for the responses.