A FIVE-DAY training meet for senior engineers, chemists and UNICEF officers from six states on the multi district assessment for water safety was inaugurated at the Hotel Jehan Numa Palace today.
The water safety programme is designed to enable stakeholders at village, district and State level to understand and report to poor drinking water quality using water safety plans. The Public health engineering department, in partnership with UNICEF, is implementing the programme in Madhya Pradesh.
Delegates from Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Assam, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh are participating in the programme. Speaking at the inaugural session, P C Meena, Secretary Public Health Engineering Department, said that challenges like chemical contamination, salinity and indiscriminate use of chemicals and lack of awareness impact water safety.
In order to implement waters safety plans one has to work out the critical gaps, develop evidences, proxy indicators and then design the programme. This training is one such step in the right direction, Meena added.
He further said that Madhya Pradesh is pioneering in testing water quality and as of now has tested 3000 samples from 21 districts of the State which was jointly undertaken by PHED, UNICEF and Regional Research Laboratory (RRL), Bhopal.
Cynthia de Windt, State Representative UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh, while addressing the participants said that there is concern on both the fronts — water scarcity and excess water on land following flooding.
She said that water plays an important role in peoplee’s lives especially those of children. People need to address not only issue of quality but quantity too. Safe water can help reduce water-borne diseases burden by 70 per cent, she added. Windt thanked the PHED for initiating this capacity building work in partnership with UNICEF, which is the first of its kind in the country.
Paul Devrill, Project Officer Water and Environmental Sanitation from UNICEF, Delhi, shared his thoughts at the meet. He said that faecal contamination of water is the real cause of concern. At present there are critical gaps and one needs data and capacity building. Results of this exercise would be useful at district level and at State level this will help plan much better, he said.
Dr S R Wate Deputy Director, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, while reiterating his concern on faecal contamination, raised the issue of microbial contamination in addition to chemical contamination in the water.
Sudhir Saxena, Engineer-in-Chief of Public Health Engineering Department, UNICEF’s Dr Samuel Godfrey and other participants from six states were present at the meet.