REPORT OF THE VISIT TO KAMDEBKATHI, THE SELECTED VILLAGE OF NORTH 24 PARGANAS IN NOVEMBER, 2000
(Prepared by Meera MH smith, member of Bay Area Prabasi and Director of ProjectWellUSA)
On 18th November 2000 another visit was made to the village, Kamdebkathi, of North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India.. Meera MH Smith of ProjectWellUSA, California, USA, Mrs.Sumana Chakraborty, Secretary, Mr. Gorachand Ghosh, Accountant, and Ms. Gangully, assistant of Loka Kalyan Parishad were present.
On that day a meeting was organized with some villagers of Kamdebkathi (East and West) and Simulpur. From West Kamdebkathi Mr. Tarun Adhikari, assistant engineer of the Emergency Water Supply division of CMDA (Calcutta Metropolitan District Authority) represented the village. Others those who were present from the pre-selected sites for provision for dugwells were Mr. Dilip Gyain and Mr. Lolit Mohan Halder of site number PW-7, Mr, Sushil Ray, Mr. Shyamal Adhikari, Mr. Dulal Adhikari of site number PW-6. Due to miscommunication, the people of the East Kamdebkathi did not know about this meeting and hence only Mr. Abdul Salaam was present who represented East Kamdebkathi.
Simulpur is an adjacent village where one site will be selected to compare the management and awareness of the people of the two villages. The secretary of the Simulpur Aika Sammelan Club, Mr. Probhat Sarkar was present with Mr Samir Roy and Mr. Ranjit Biswas.
Mrs. Meera Smith explained the reasons for choosing dug wells as the method for providing arsenic-free water to the village, Kamdebkathi, where more that 75% of the tubewells are contaminated. According to the reports obtained from the local people the deep tube wells provided by the local panchayat are also getting contaminated with arsenic. Mrs. Smith also mentioned the basis of choosing the sites for the dug wells. She clearly mentioned that the sites would be selected:
- Where there is no supply of arsenic-free drinking water nearby,
- There should be contaminated tubewells in the neighborhood.
- The land should be on a higher ground from the surrounding land and should be at least 100 feet away from any field that yields more than one crop a year,
4) No political nor any religious influence will be preferred.
Mrs. Sumana Chakraborty spoke about the people’s participation and community based dug wells. These will have to be maintained by the beneficiary families. She also spoke about the awareness program that should be launched before the digging of the wells. The ideal time to dig the dugwells is in the months of April and May, the driest part of the year. In this area the topsoil gets hard and the subsequent layers remain soft enough to continue digging and hence this is the best time of the year though in some areas December would be the best time to dig such wells.
The meeting ended with a follow-up date to visit the pre-selected sites for some dugwells.
On 23rd November 2000, Mrs. Meera Smith and Mr. Bibhash Dey, an assistant of LKP, visited the sites to be selected on the basis of the above criteria. The selected sites are shown on the map below.