Sunday, March 26

Xavier’s project shortlisted

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A low-cost water filter developed by students of St Xavier’s College has been shortlisted as one of the best projects in an international competition on devising safe drinking water for underprivileged families.

More than 135 institutions from across the world participated in the competition organised by Entrepreneurial Action of University Students (Enactus). The international non-profit organisation works with institutions of higher education and various industries to develop entrepreneurial and innovation skills among young students.

The organisation headquartered in the US has shortlisted projects of 12 institutions, including that of St Xavier’s, in the competition, World Water Race, 2019, Father Dominic Savio, principal, St Xavier’s College, said.

All the 12 institutions will visit California in September to showcase their projects. The top four will go to the finals and will receive prizes.

Postgraduate microbiology students of St Xavier’s College developed the filter’s know-how and commerce students designed and manu- factured the product, Savio said.

The filter is different from the normal “gravitational filters” because it has five layers, Arun Mitra, the microbiology teacher who is the project guide, said.

The first layer in the filter’s candle has activated alumina and the second activated carbon. Together they trap the arsenic in water, Mitra said.

“The top two layers reduce the arsenic content even if the percentage of the contamination is far higher than the permissible limit (0.01mg per litre),” he said.

“The carbon layer is followed by magnesium oxide, core sand and fine sand…

bacteria, too, gets removed.” The filter developed under Project Shuddhi of the college is aimed at providing arsenic free potable water to poor people in the certain rural belts in Nadia, Purulia and South 24-Parganas, Savio said.

People in these places are at high risk of health hazards because of “severe arsenic poisoning” in potable water, he said. Emphasis was also given on research to ensure the filter could provide bacteria-free water.

The college has partnered a private agency to manufacture the filter that’s been priced at Rs 650.

The college has given a filter each to at least 100 fam- ilies in Nadia and Purulia for free, Jayant Kakrania, a commerce student who is in the team that oversees the filter’s manufacturing, said.

Government-authorised agencies have tested samples of water purified by the filter and given their approval, Kakrania said.

Activated alumina is used to eliminate arsenic in water, Pankaj Roy, director, School of Water Resource Engineering, Jadavpur University, said. “I can’t comment on the filter as I am not aware about its features. The permissible limit of arsenic contamination in water is 0.01mg per litre… it must be ensured that the level is never higher than this. Necessary steps needs to be taken to ensure maintenance of the filter, particularly the candle’s longivitySt Xavier’s College runs a cell to promote the entrepreneur skills of its students and also of students of other institutions in the city. The cell’s main function is to motivate and train students with potential to start their own businesses.

The college had started its Enactus chapter in 2013 for social entrepreneurial projects to tackle water and sanitation problems for the benefit of poor people in Bengal.


Source: The Telegraph

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