Safe Water for All: Quenching the Thirst of the Next GenerationIn a collaborative effort, HCCB provides safe drinking water access to two schools in Assam through RO water systems.
Did you know that more than 5 lakh schools in India do not have tap water facilities? This alarmingly high number shows the dire need for a collective effort toward making basic water facilities accessible for school children.
Muduki High School and Pantan High School in Assam were two such schools that lacked access to tap water, that is, until very recently.
After suffering silently for more than 50 years, joyous laughter can be heard emanating from the tranquility of the hill locked schools. The students and teachers are elated to be celebrating what had otherwise looked like a distant possibility.
They finally have 24/7 access to safe drinking water.
Hear their voices
As a teacher in one of the two schools reminisced, "Some of our students pedal as much as 20 kilometres to reach the school, and believe me, it was indescribably painful to see them searching for drinking water, especially in the summer. Today, we cannot express our joy at seeing safe drinking water in our taps. It’s almost like getting a new lease on life."
A senior member of the school management committee said, "Our prayers have finally been answered." He went on to narrate their past struggles, "We kept pleading with almost every agency for safe drinking water, but to no avail."
How we made it happen
This transformative sustainability initiative of installing RO water systems to provide safe drinking water to school children was possible due to a collaborative action between HCCB and the District Administration of Kamrup (rural) in Assam.
Moved by the plight of these school children, HCCB reached out to the Deputy Commissioner and offered its services to install drinking water facilities in the schools. The District Administration welcomed HCCB’s gesture, and the collaboration started in earnest. After conducting due diligence on various schools in the Mirza block of the Kamrup District, HCCB decided to install the RO systems in two schools, namely Muduki High School and Pantan High School, that are situated almost 50 kilometres from Guwahati.
Incidentally, these were the first RO systems to be installed in any government school in the state. And for HCCB as well, this was the first time the beverage manufacturer was setting up such a facility outside of its factory locations.
One factor that stood in our way was the fact that the groundwater level in the region was very low. This is mainly because the schools are situated on hilly terrain along the fringe areas of the Assam-Meghalaya border. Moreover, the source of water in all these schools was essentially ring well water that had dried up during the winter. The groundwater level lowered during the winter, leading to a scarcity of drinking water from December to April. The problems of arsenic and fluoride contamination of ground water further compounded the challenge.
HCCB made sure that the borewells were dug deep enough to ensure the year-round availability of safe drinking water in the schools. With a capacity of 250 litres per hour, the RO water systems were also supported by an iron removal filter, multiport valves, and multigrade filter media for the treatment of 19 different quality parameters. Besides, brick wall enclosures were created with roof sheds for the protection of the expensive and sophisticated RO systems.
Inaugurating the RO Systems at a function held on April 6, 2023, Keerthi Jalli, DC, Kamrup (rural), thanked HCCB profusely for its contribution to the cause of humanity. She further said, "Availability of safe drinking water is a basic human necessity, and nothing can be more satisfying than seeing our children get access to such good quality drinking water."
On their part, the children murmured in unison, "Thank you, Coca-Cola."