It was an ordinary summer day in 2014 in Chunkuri village of Dacope Upazila, Khulna.
Jashim Gazi had been busy running some errands. So, it took him a little longer than usual to go to the local bazaar, known as Chatla Bazar, for groceries.
In the afternoon, when he reached Chatla, he found all the items on his weekly grocery list, but the bazaar was out of drinking water stock.
Yes, you read it correctly. On Jashim’s grocery list, drinking water was also a daily item, something that we easily get at our homes, offices or shops.
Buying drinking water was not as easy as buying other things for Jashim. Because every day by noon, he had to go to Chatla Bazar from Chunkuri only to collect drinking water.
“Luckily, I am a boatman, so in a way, it was easier for me to collect water from the bazaar as I boat from Chunkuri to Chatla every day. But the problem was, I had to be there by 12:30 pm and wait in the long queue,” remembered Jashim.
If Jashim was just five minutes late, he might have to change his entire day’s plan and only focus on ways to manage access to drinking water for the day.
“Water is something that you cannot live without. The day I was referring to, I could not find drinking water anywhere on that day. And we had to drink water from our pond. Though we boiled it, it made my uncle very sick.
He had food poisoning and extreme stomach ache. His health worsened so much that we had to take him to our closest health complex. He suffered for more than two months,” Jashim added.
However, the scenario of Chunkuri has been changed by now.
Native people do not have to go to Chatla Bazar to buy drinking water any longer, as a result of Energypac initiating their corporate social responsibility (CSR) project titled “G-Gas Clean Water” in December 2017.
Energypac believes in the motto “change people’s lives” and works accordingly amongst its communities, stakeholders, and society. Hence, the goal of this project is “securing a safe future, by drinking safe water.”
Until now, the company has contributed Tk15 lac to this project.
“To ensure safe water access in Chunkuri, we have used two submersible water pumps of 8.5 horsepower along with two 1,000-feet deep tubewells. We support 200 families here providing more than 10,000 litres of water a day,” said Ameen Mahmood, marketing communications lead, Energypac.
Earlier, the people of this region were dependent on specific sources for drinking water, which included rainwater harvesting (RHW), pond sand filters (PSF), reverse osmosis, deep tube wells and pond water. Due to the high cost of technology, the marginalised people of the area could not access any of these technology-based water sources.
Awareness is key
Also, most people in this area are not aware of the incremental risks of salinity and its impact.
About 84 percent of people in coastal regions lack an accurate idea of salinity’s adverse effects on groundwater. And so, they often consume contaminated water from local sources. As a result, most people in the area used to get infected with waterborne diseases.
To create awareness, Energypac has arranged local talks and seminars on the side effects of using saline and contaminated water. As Energypac believes it is its responsibility to keep the future generation safe, it voluntarily supplies drinking water in local schools to keep the children safe.
In Chunkuri, water is supplied directly from the pump using four high-pressure taps, and local people are aware of drinking pure water. Natives regularly come in the 1,000 square feet base area to collect water from the taps. This water collecting point is in the extended area of Energypac’s G-gas plant in Chunkuri.
“Since this water station has been set here, my worries have significantly decreased. I have suffered a lot while bringing up my first two children as they were frequently sick due to using saline water. Now, I feel relaxed that my children are safe,” said Aklima Khanom, a native of Chunkuri village, who collects water every two days.
Unlike Aklima, local people can come to the water point twice a day to collect water. To oversee the supply and check the water quality, the company has its own Health Environment and Safety (HES) department.
“Every week, we routinely check water quality. When 200 families depend on us, it seems like a responsibility to ensure good quality. Hence, G-Gas’s maintenance and the HES department keep updates on the water supply, pumps and also promptly solve any problems,” added Ameen, explaining their liability to this project.
Humayun Rashid, managing director and CEO of Energypac, said, “This initiative was taken to prevail over the crisis of water scarcity in Chunkuri where people suffer severe salinity problems. Our initiative has positively impacted some lives there, and we are glad.
“We did not take this initiative for any profit. Instead, it was taken as we felt it was our social responsibility towards our citizens. We will continue doing such work, and I believe whoever can take such initiative should come forward and do their part of the responsibility.”