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INDIA: Salesian Alumni Project Providing Safe Drinking Water for 3,500 Students

(MissionNewswire) With more than 1.2 billion people, India’s growing population is putting a severe strain on all of the country’s natural resources. According to Water.org, close to 104 million people do not have access to safe, clean water and 808 million have no sanitation services. Most water sources throughout the country are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff.

While India has made some progress in the supply of safe water, there remain gross disparities in safe water access across the country. The World Bank estimates that 21 percent of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water with diarrhea alone causing more than 1,600 deaths daily. Access to proper sanitation is extremely poor particularly in rural areas where only 14 percent of the population have access to a latrine. In addition, hand washing is not commonplace and leads to an increase in the spread of disease.

Salesian missionaries across India are dedicated to ensuring that access to safe water is a priority in Salesian-run programs and schools and in the communities in which they operate.

In Mumbai, alumni from the Don Bosco High School Matuga class of 1969 recently enacted the Aqua Pure Water Project. A group of 65 alumni met to determine how best to give back to the school with the outcome being the donation of a clean drinking water purification system. Today, this alumni-led volunteer project is ensuring clean water access at the school for nearly 3,500 children.

One of the alums, A.V. Suresh, CEO of Eureka Forbes, a water purification company, installed the water purification system at Don Bosco High School, Matuga. As a result of the project, he promised that the Eureka Forbes company would commit itself to providing clean drinking water to the school for the next 10 years. In addition, the company is initiating a collaborative project with Don Bosco High School for water harvesting and water recycling at the school, which, when it is completed, will be the first of its kind in the country.

“Children in India’s communities are often forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water—water that often proves contaminated and seriously sickens those who consume it,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Many other children are unable to attend school regularly because they must spend time searching for clean water. This new purification system will ensure that students can access safe water while also gaining an education.”

Recently, two Salesian students at the Assam Don Bosco University Researchers of the Electronics and Communication Engineering Department at the Don Bosco College of Engineering and Technology in Guwahati, developed an on-the-spot water contamination sensor that can assess whether the amount of metal ions present is in the range that is safe for human consumption.

The sensor works on the principle of Surface Plasmon Resonance causing the sensing solution to change color when the concentration of mental contaminants shifts, alerting the user the water is unsafe. It is extremely low cost and designed to be a use and throw away device, making it accessible for those who need it most. The sensor has been refined enough to be able to detect metals like copper and zinc in concentrations as low as two parts per million, which falls below the danger limit for human consumption.

Salesian students, Mrs. Sandhyabanti Dutta Bora and Mr. Arup Bora, designed, tested and fabricated the sensor under the guidance of Dr. Sunandan Baruah. These researchers are now working on an opto-electronic version of the sensor which will specify the concentration of different metal contaminants in drinking water.

“Water is vital for life,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Salesian Missions has made building wells and other projects that supply fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.”



Don Bosco India – Don Bosco Alumni donate Aqua Pure Water Project to Students

Two Circles.net – Portable water contamination sensor developed

Water.org – India