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ALTHOUGH the majority of rural folk
have always been lacking access to clean
hygienic water for a considerable time,
traditional water purification techniques have generally been overlooked.
Some of these traditionally proven
methods use locally available plant seeds
much in contrast to the modern treatment of water. Functionally significant,
these simple techniques have been
utilised in many parts of the world to
obtain safe drinking water. This was
brought to light by a study entitled
Appropriate Rural Technologies by
Dincsh Bharadwaj of Consortium on
One technique advocated by the
ancient Indian sage Sushruta includes
purifying water with a natural coagulant
like kataka seeds (Stryclumos potatorum). The Wract is prepared from a
thick paste of crushed seeds which is put
in water the same day. After stirring the
water for a few minutes, it is treated
with alum. Sparkling clean water is
obtained by this method.
Similarly, the seeds of Bhela
(Semacarnus anacardium) are rubbed
onto a stone and made into a thick
paste. This mucilagenous (viscous)
material is then immersed in turbid
water for obtaining crystal clean water.
This technique is prevalent all over central India.
Moreover, in southern India,
crushed seed coats from elaiclu (cardamom) are dusted on the water surface. Stirring follows. Water which is got
is cleaner than before, and does
not possess any of its earlier foul
smell and taste either. Seeds of
drumstick (Morenga olifera) are
used as a coagulant to purify
muddy water. Essentially a
Sudanese discovery, the technique
involves removal of the wings and
coat of the seed. The white kernel
is crushed in a mortar and the
powder is mixed with a small
J amount of already purified water.
The mixture is stirred for a few
minutes and the suspension thus
obtained is poured through a tea strai
ner into the turbid water. Water gets
purified after being stirred slowly by a
wooden twirling stick for 10 minutes.
If popularised among villagers,
these simple techniques could provide
workable solution to drinking water
problem in areas lacking safe water supply. Thus, established as proven meth-
ods, the traditional water purification
techniques can certainly go a long way
in ensuring potable water to millions of
villagers the world over.