Filling up fast

How safe drinking water is emerging as the next big sustainable business opportunity

Vishal Koul

Bansi Dhar Yadav of Pacheri Khurd in Buhana tehsil of Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district is mostly confined to a chair these days. It started about 10 years ago as a pain in his lower back. The pain would steadily increase by the day, until one day when he tried lifting something and couldn’t. “I began to get numbness in my fingers, and soon it spread to my entire body,” the 63-year-old recalls. His younger brother had died after similar symptoms, so, in 2006, Yadav’s son took him to Delhi. After an MRI scan that showed nerve compression, the doctor said it was the increased fluoride level in the water that was causing his problems. “I couldn’t move or eat food or even turn. I tried many treatments, including Ayurveda and yoga in nearby Sikar, but nothing seemed to work,” says the former forest contractor. He admits that since Sarvajal brought its purified water system to nearby Bagar in 2008, there has been an improvement. “I can now walk for a few metres. Earlier, someone had to help with everything.”