A Sulabh Water ATM has been installed at famed Harihar Nath temple of Sonepur village to provide purified drinking water to the residents and visiting devotees of Sonepur. Interestingly, the Sulabh Jal is available at just Re 1/litre
“What can you do with just Re 1/-?” people often say the line as a challenging task as they are too confident that next to nothing relevant can be bought with just a rupee. However, the good news is that water, the most essential element of the Earth, in its purest form is now available for the people living in or around, or visiting, Sonepur village of Bihar.
Yes, this has been made possible with the purified ‘Sulabh Jal’ which can be dispensed from the Sulabh Water ATM installed at the famous Harihar Nath Temple at just Re 1 per litre.
Minister of Public Health Engineering Department Vinod Narayan Jha, Gupteshwar Pandey, Director General, Bihar Military Police, and Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, inaugurated the purified drinking water ATM.
The water purification machine (Water Kiosk) is from the Nordic Technologies, a Denmark-based company. Shangrila Projects Pvt Ltd and Nordic Technologies, along with the expertise of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, are jointly implementing this project to provide safe and pure drinking water to the villagers of Sonepur and the nearby villages.
Sonepur is a city and sub-division in the Indian state of Bihar, situated on the banks of the River Gandak (River Narayani) and River Ganga in the Saran district. Sonepur once famous for its longest Railway Platform is each year host to the world’s largest Cattle Fair, its origin tracing back to the olden times of Chandragupta Maurya, which starts on the full moon day, i.e. the Kartik Poornima.
An annual cattle fair that titles to one of the biggest in Asia, ‘Sonepur Mela’ is the pride of northern Bihar. The fair is held on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, where it confluences with its tributary, Gandak. Going by the pattern of the stars, the fair takes place on the auspicious dates of Kartik Poornima in the month of November/December every year. Some prefer to call this prehistoric fair as Harihar Kshetra Mela. The fair acts as a selling ground of not only cattle, but breeds of dogs, elephants, birds and camels also become part of the attractions.
The religious side of the Sonepur Mela brings thousands of Hindu pilgrims and devotees for the sacred dip at the confluence of river Ganga and river Gandak. It is believed that taking a dip here, particularly at the auspicious time of full moon, purifies oneself from within his inner self.
However, the increased level of harmful arsenic in the river Ganga of the region has been a matter of grave concern for long. Many projects, initiatives have taken place over the years. Taking the initiatives to another level with purified water that too at such cheap rate, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak stepped forward and hence the Sulabh Water ATM was installed at the famed-temple.
Sulabh Jal Is Three Gulps Of Life!
Addressing the gathering after the inauguration of the Sulabh Water ATM, Vinod Narayan Jha, Minister of Public Health Engineering Department, Bihar Government, said, “70 per cent of diseases in our nation are impure water-borne. Earlier we didn’t know that Ganga water and the underground water can also be harmful to the health but now we know that they indeed are. It is my duty to ensure clean drinking water to the residents. We needed a machine like this (the Sulabh Water ATM) and today I am very delighted to inaugurate it. For this, I especially thank Dr Bindeshwar Pathak.”
“The Sulabh Water ATM is a boon not only for the devotees but also the residents of Sonepur. Consumption of at least three litres of water is a must for a person to stay healthy. With this machine, people can access the required quantity with just Rs 3 and secure their health. There is no cheaper and easier way to stay healthy and safe. Moreover, this machine will also be a good source of income for the temple as well. It is a public service and only Dr Pathak could have done it,” said Gupteshwar Pandey, Director General, Bihar Military Police, who is also the president of Baba Harihar Nath Temple Nyas Samiti. Speaking on the occasion, Jesper Vibe-Hansen, Head of Commercial Department/Head of Innovation Centre Denmark, Royal Danish Embassy, briefed about Nordic Technologies. He said that the company has been working on water treatment technology.
“We will continue working with Sulabh. Here, the water sample tested shows a lot of bacteria in it. This machine prevents these bacteria from flourishing. In it, the water is treated at three levels. The temperature is set at 12° Celsius so that the bacteria cannot survive,” said Hansen.
From Taboo To Necessity
Recalling the time when even speaking of toilets was a taboo, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, said, “There was a time when people used to think that it was against their religion and beliefs to set up toilets in homes. Today the conditions have changed. Sulabh took up this issue as a challenge and transformed it into a mass movement. Sulabh built over 15 lakh toilets to aware people of the importance of sanitation and cleanliness for their own health. Today people build toilets in their houses.”
He also talked about the hundreds of emancipated manual scavengers, who had come all the way from Rajasthan to participate in the event, that they were once considered ‘untouchables’. Today the conditions have changed and these women are sitting in par with their hosts. “They have become Brahmins now.” In the same way, the widow mothers, who came from Vrindavan, have also been mainstreamed by Sulabh.
Dr Pathak, who chaired the programme, and his wife Amola Pathak were felicitated with bouquets and shawls. Vinod Narayan Jha, Gupteshwar Pandey, Claus Stroeeh (from Nordic Technologies, Denmark), Jesper Vibe-Hansen, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak and Amola Pathak posed for a memorable photoshoot with the emancipated manual scavengers from Alwar and Tonk and their hosts (the people whose houses these erstwhile scavengers used to visit to clean the nightsoil), widows from Vrindavan and students from Ukhral Training Centre, Jammu & Kashmir, to mark the historic day.
March Against Drug Abuse
Later in the day about 200 Sulabh-rehabilitated scavenger-women from Alwar and Tonk, Rajasthan, widows from Vrindavan and school students of Sulabh Training Centre, Ukhral, Jammu & Kashmir, took out a protest march against drugs, alcohol and narcotics in Sonepur. The protesters highlighted the perilous health effects of the abuse.
The procession was part of an initiative of the Director General Gupteshwar Pandey of Bihar Police.
The rallyists started off from the famous Harihar Nath temple raising anti-abuse slogans and walked towards Sonepur Mela grounds, which is the venue of the traditional fair attracting national and international participants.
Now, The Future Is Healthy!
Water is an imperative, whether it is human life or any other creature of the world, ranging from flora and fauna to other living beings – we all are well-aware of this fact. If water is polluted, it directly impacts our health.
In India alone, every year so many lives fall prey to polluted water, reaching their end. Many abdominal diseases are caused due to dirty water. Slight carelessness while maintaining cleanliness of water leads to numerous maladies. If water is not clean and pure, it negatively impacts body’s immunity.
Bihar’s Harihar-Kshetra Mela (aka the Sonepur Mela) is famous across the world. Every year lakhs of devotees visit this place and cherish worshipping at the Harihar Nath Temple.
A lot of people stay here for days while it is very common among devotees to spend an entire day experiencing charms of the fair. In such situation, it is necessary to ensure that these people remain in good health. Therefore, it is much needed to make pure water available for them all. Since most of the visitors are from rural areas, it is also required to keep the water price cost-effective.
That is what has turned into a reality. Any devotee-visitor, or in fact the resident of the village and from the villages around, can access the Sulabh Water ATM and ensure a safe and healthy tomorrow for themselves and their families – all at a cost very pocket-friendly!
© 2016 Sulabh Swachh Bharat. All Right Reserved