Amidst the glitz of the corporate offices, pubs, malls and multiplexes, that are found abundantly in the southern city of Hyderabad in Telangana lies Rasoolpura, one of the city’s biggest slums. With a population of 1.3 lakh residents, they face a daily struggle to get clean drinking water.
“We had to go to a community tap, wait for an hour and fill water which was often unclean as it was mixed with sewage water. We had to use a cloth to filter the water before drinking or using it and we would still fall sick frequently,” says Zubair, a resident of Rasoolpura with a family of five.
Learning of the atrocities citizens like Zubair were facing only to get a cup of clean drinking water, 16-year-old Jayant Manghnani, and his group of friends started SHUDH, a scheme to provide clean drinking water to the slum dwellers.
Combating a water crisis
According to UNICEF, less than 50% of the population in India have access to clean drinking water and the residents of Rasoolpura fall within this category. The water received by the slum dwellers in Rasoolpura is often contaminated as the sewage pipe lines run parallel to the water pipes and huge amounts of chlorine is added in order to treat the water. Jayant Manghnani, a class 11 student at Chirec International School, took note of the water crisis and decided to do something about it. “Residents of the slum get water only once in four to five days. This water is unsafe for drinking as it is contaminated by sewage water. Moreover, the residents store the water they get in dirty utensils, making it unsafe for drinking,” says Jayant.
Jayant along with his four family friends — Antara Agarwal, Nandini Agarwal, Dev Ravi and Eshaan Agarwal, came together to start SHUDH. The team has members from different age groups with the youngest being a class 9 student and the oldest a class 11 student. The project was launched under the NayaNirmaan initiative with the aim of providing slum dwellers with water filters. Initially, Jayant thought he would make his own water filter, but his innovation cleaned only a limited amount of water and faced leakage issues. This is when he decided to raise funds to purchase water filters.
After running a crowdfunding campaign on social media, he raised Rs 1.5 lakhs in a period of 10 days. The team was able to purchase 100 filters with a capacity of 16 liters that can provide safe drinking water to a family of five for up to two days.
In addition, these water filters were effective, unbreakable, easy to maintain and did not require electricity.
“The filter can easily be maintained as it can purify 5000 litres of water, almost 1 year’s requirement, after which it just needs a change of the cartridge which costs only Rs 350 and is easily available in the market,” says Jayant.
Earlier this month, SHUDH was able to distribute the water filters to 100 households, impacting almost 500 people in the process.
“Now we have pure clean water because of the water filters which have made our lives better,” adds Zubair.
Building a sustainable future
SHUDH is not the first project that Jayant has undertaken. A year and a half ago, Jayant caught sight of the workers at a construction site who were using plastic as protection for their hands and legs which resulted in small injuries. He decided to distribute gloves and gumboots to the construction site workers and educate them on how they should be used. This was the start of NayaNirmaan, an initiative aimed at building a sustainable future.
Since 2019, under the NayaNirmaan initiative, Jayant has undertaken various projects to help the less privileged who have been struck by crisis. During the floods in Hyderabad he distributed food and necessities. He has also been creating awareness and distributing masks, sanitizers and hand wash to construction site workers during the ongoing pandemic. He says, “I wanted to understand how difficult it would be to make a difference to the lives of others by myself. This is why I decided to start my own initiative.” Jayant has had the full support of his family who have helped him raise funds for his initiative.
As for SHUDH, Jayant plans to scale up the initiative to reach more people. A Hyderabad-based NGO, Inner Circle is teaming up with SHUDH to distribute 1,000 or more water filters in the coming months.
“Many people feel they don’t have the money to make a difference and so they don’t try, but through methods like crowdfunding I feel that people can make a lot of difference simply by contributing whatever little they can,” says Jayant.
He signs off with an inspiring message for everyone, “People think that one person can’t make a difference but I think anyone can, they just have to take the right step forward.”
Edited by Yoshita Rao