Project Well History
1. 1996-2000: Dr. Meera M Hira Smith, as an international coordinator of PW between New Zealand, India and the USA, sought methods of reducing As levels in drinking water for some villages in West Bengal and an NGO based in Kolkata.
2. 1998: Dr Hira Smith visited several afflicted villages and discussed pros and cons of various methods with several scientists, some who are members of the Advisory Board.
3. Late 2000: Loka Kalyan Parishad, an NGO based in Kolkata, was selected to perform administrative tasks associated with the PW program.
4. Sept 2000: With assistance from several NGOs, including LKP, Dr. Smith surveyed several N24 Parganas villages to find the best method of providing arsenic-free water, given socioeconomic conditions. Ten modified shallow dugwells were scheduled for construction in the first phase.
5. 2000: Consulted with Dr. Timir Hore, a hydrogeologist based in New Jersey, about the interior design of shallow dugwell. Dr. Hore recommended his friend, Mr. Protap Chakravarti, formerly a director of the Geological Survey of India, Kolkata who was introduced by Meera Smith to LKP and was appointed Director in charge Project Well in India.
6. May 2001: One dugwell was constructed with the help of a few Aikya Sammelani Club members in Simulpur. A one-year program was initiated to observe bacterial counts and note technical problems for rectification the following summer.
7. June 2001: Upon completion of the first dugwell, an inaugural ceremony was held by LKP. Community response to the dugwell program was excellent.
8. Mar 2002: Mr. Xavier Savariumuthu joined Project Well as Coordinator and became a member of LKP (upon their request). Dr. M Smith, Mr. P Chakravarti, and Mr. X Savarimuthu worked on site selection, well design, community involvement and awareness programs, evaluation of construction, and on-going monitoring and testing with the aid of field workers.
9. May/June 2002: Construction of five wells in Kamdebkathi and Simulpur was completed.
10. July 2002: Initial observations on constructed wells were released, showing very low concentrations of arsenic but some elevated coliform counts.
11. Jan-March 2003: Project Well visited Chandalati, Kolsur, Chondipur, Bagjola, Baena, and Kamdebkathi several times to select for (phase 3) construction an additional 20 sites, funded by the Rotary Club of Sycamore/ Danville Valley and Rotary Int'l.
12. July 2002: Construction of the 20 new dugwells was completed with constant overseas monitoring via the Internet and telephone. Phase 3 of the project was successful thanks to the hard work of Mr. Protap Chakravarti, Mr. Xavier Savarimuthu, Mr. Shibupada Mondal, Mr. Dennis Baroi, Mr. Ashutosh Biswas, and Mrs. Bokul Biswas.
13. July 2003: The year-long monitoring of five dugwells was extended for one more year.
14. December 2003: Project Well decided to incorporate.
In addition, intensive community awareness programs with the help of slides and discussions were held on:
December 30, 2001
August 23, 2003
March 17, 2002
December 28, 2003
July 21, 2003
December 29, 2003
April 2003 (three puppet shows, funded by the Rotary)
January 2, 2004
August 17, 2003
Papers and conference proceedings related to Project Well have been published periodically, including:
2000: Dr. M M Hira Smith published “An Assessment of Alternative Methods of Providing Arsenic Free Water in Villages of North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India” in the proceedings of the International Seminar of Changing Environmental Scenario of India and Adjacent Countries Since Independence and XII Annual Conference of Indian Institute of Geomorphologists (IGI). On the basis of the survey carried out in the villages of N 24 Parganas, shallow dug wells were assessed to be the cheapest, most adaptable method of providing arsenic free water to poor villagers
Jan 2002: Dr. M M Hira Smith presented the findings of results of Project Well dugwells at the International conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The article “A dugwell program to provide arsenic-safe water in West Bengal, India: preliminary results” by Hira Smith MM, Hore T, Chakraborty P, Chakraborty DK, Savarimuthu X, Smith AH. was published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A Toxic Hazard Substance Environmental Engineering. 2003 Jan;38(1):289-99.
10-12 December 2002: An abstract for "Dugwell – A Viable Option to Combat the Incidence of Arsenic Toxicity in Groundwater and Impending Threat of Arsenicosis Epidemic in Parts of West Bengal” authored by Savarimuthu X, Hira Smith MM, Hore T, Chakravarti P, Chakraborty DK, was submitted to the Seminar on Environmental Pollution and Its Management, organized at Jadavpur University.
10-12 December 2002: Mr. Xavier Savarimuthu of Project Well submitted an abstract and presented Application of Global Positioning System (GPS) in Formulation of Sustainable Arsenic Mitigation Plan to the Seminar on Environment and Mapping Techniques, organized by NATMO on 10-12 2003.
March 2003: A study authored by Hira Smith MM, Hore T, Chakravarti P, Chakraborty DK, Savarimuthu X, Smith AH, “A Dugwell Program to Provide Arsenic-Safe Water in West Bengal, India: Preliminary Results, was published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A Toxic Hazard Substance Environmental Engineering. 2003 Jan; 38(1):289-99.
January 9 2004: Dr. Meera M Hira Smith presented her field experiences emphasizing on “The Strategies to Achieve Sustainability of Dugwells in North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India” at the workshop organized by Global Change Program and School of Studies in Environmental Radiation and Archaeological Sciences, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India on January 9 2004.
15-17 February 2004: On behalf of Project Well, Mr. Xavier Savarimuthu presented the follow up program of the dugwell project at the international conference 2004 in Bangladesh, Dhaka. The abstract, "The one-year monitoring follow-up program of shallow dugwells to provide arsenic-safe water in West Bengal, India" was authored by Xavier S, Hira Smith MM, Yuan Y, Hore T, Chakravarti P, Hira A, Khan DK, Smith AH.
*****Henceforth updates are published in the form of Newsletters and Reports on the web.