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Details of Activities of Society for

Technology with a Human Face

From 2011-2014

In 1933, Rabindranath Tagore wrote a short essay entitled: Can Science be Humanized? In that
essay, Tagore drove the point home that:
Knowledge is not enough be it scientific or philosophical unless we have been able to
transform it into the well being of those who need it most.
With that motto as the guiding principle, Society for Technology with a Human Face (STHF) has
been operating to serve the impoverished communities in India and other neighboring countries
since being registered in 2007. Science and technology are the primary tools that we use to address
and mitigate water, sanitation and education problems in building strong, self-sufficient
Our strong basis in water treatment technology has made the focus of our work to provide smart,
sustainable water treatment solutions in order to provide safe, potable water for people forced to
drink unsafe water due to natural groundwater contamination with arsenic, fluoride, uranium or
iron. This focus has led to installations of several groundwater treatment facilities to produce safe
water in places with natural groundwater contamination.

The treatment design we use was developed by Dr. Arup K. SenGupta over the last 15 years of
research activities in West Bengal. For over 25 years, Dr. SenGupta has been the P.C. Rossin
Professor of Environmental Engineering at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA),
Figure 1. Dr. SenGupta has over 100 publications in international peer-reviewed academic
journals, 8 patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and 45 graduate
students. Some relevant publications have been included in this application. As an NRI, Dr.
SenGupta is not a member of STHF, but provides strong technical guidance and leadership.

Figure 1. Dr. SenGupta accepting the Intel Environment TechAward 2012 in Silicon Valley.

The advanced, arsenic-selective adsorbent patented by Dr. SenGupta is known as a hybrid anion
exchange (HAIX) resin and is currently manufactured by Layne Christensen (New J ersey, USA)
as LayneRT (, Figure 2. HAIX resin is made
by the impregnation of inorganic materials (e.g., metal oxide nanoparticles) inside an organic,
polymer support structure (e.g., quaternary ammonium functionalized polystyrene di-vinzyl
benzene, or anion exchange resin), Figure 3. Over one million people around the world drink
arsenic-safe water because of HAIX technology. LayneRT has also been used internationally in
several countries to provide arsenic-safe water.

Figure 2. LayneRT. Arsenic-selective, hybrid anion exchange (HAIX) resin

Figure 3. Overview of HAIX resin synthesis.
LayneRT is implemented in appropriate manner for sustainable village-scale, community-operated
arsenic treatment operations. Figure 4 indicates how LayneRT is incorporated into an arsenic
treatment ecosystem.

Figure 4. Diagram of sustainable arsenic treatment systems used in villages of N. 24 Parganas,
West Bengal, India and other regions.
Having an appropriate water treatment ecosystem is critical to long-term success. Countless
examples of failed infrastructure projects dot the landscape of developing countries, including
India. Arsenic treatment efforts were notorious in being short-term, free solutions (6-12 months
lifetime), donated by international organizations without consideration for long-term use (>12
months), Figure 5.

Figure 5. Defunct arsenic treatment systems previously installed by Pal-Trokkner in West Bengal.

STHF Involvement Prior to 2010
Funding from various sources has allowed members of STHF to contract out construction of three
arsenic treatment facilities in N. 24 Parganas prior to 2010. The construction has been completed
by Ramkrishna (Water Solution) Enterprise (Vill. +P.O. Bamunara, Durgapur 713212, Dist.-
Burdwan), which is under ownership of Mr. Pranab Pramanik (mobile number: 9932184493,

Binimaypara Village Installation
Binimaypara village was highly impacted by arsenic and many community members died due to
arsenic related cancers, Figure 6. When asking people of Habra, N. 24 Parganas, the nearby
commercial hub of N. 24 Parganas, where is there high concentration of arsenic in the
groundwater and high number of arsenic problems, they mention the Binimaypara village area.

Figure 6. A recently added chart of arsenic victims installed by STHF at the Binimaypara water
treatment facility.
Binimaypara village is located behind the Ashoknagar State General Hospital in Ashoknagar,
West Bengal, Figure 7 or

Figure 7. Google map of our arsenic treatment unit installation in Binimaypara.
In 2006, the arsenic treatment facility at Binimaypara was installed to provide safe water to the
120 families in the community at the low cost of Rs. 15/family/month for 20L/family/day. Since
installation, the system has been managed locally by the community-selected caretaker, Mr.
Swapan Paul (+91-99327-85474) who lives across the road from the treatment system. The arsenic
treatment system continues to produce arsenic-safe water for a community who does not have
other options for safe, potable water. Water quality data immediately after installation until the
first regeneration is included below in Figure 8. During operation, regeneration has been
performed by local workers at the central regeneration facility in a small community adjacent to
Kumra Bazar, N. 24 Parganas, West Bengal (, as seen in Figure 9.


Figure 8. Arsenic breakthrough history for each bed of a two-bed type arsenic removal unit
installed in Binimaypara, Ashoknagar, N. 24 Parganas West Bengal, India (originally published in
Water Research Vol. 44, 2010, 5813-5822).

Figure 9. Photograph showing the trained villagers performing regeneration at the central
regeneration facility (originally published in Water Research Vol. 44, 2010, 5813-5822).

Nabarun Sangha Community Club Installation
Nabarun Sangha Community Club is located on APC Rd, Ashoknagar, N. 24 Parganas, West
Bengal, as seen in Figure 10 or In Nabarun Sangha, the groundwater is
naturally contaminated with high levels of arsenic, like in many other parts of Ashoknagar.
Without affordable, safe water options people were forced to drink arsenic contaminated water and
suffer the health effects due to high arsenic consumption prior to late 2004. Drinking water
contaminated with high levels of arsenic causes a wide range of health problems, which is broadly
termed arsenicosis. A current victim in Gaighata, a town nearby Ashoknagar, who is suffering
from past consumption of water with high levels of arsenic, can be seen in Figure 11.
In November 2004, the first public use of HAIX resin in the world to provide arsenic-safe water
occurred in Nabarun Sangha after the installation of an arsenic treatment system. The first system
was a hand pump powered unit installed by Lehigh University (Dr. Arup K. SenGupta, +1-610-
758-3534), Bengal Engineering Science University (BESU, Dr. Anirban Gupta, +91-98302-
42717), and Water for People (Dipa Biswas, +91-98313-02176). The Nabarun Sangha Community
Club appointed a water committee comprising both men and women that is responsible for
collecting monthly water tariffs to support long-term operation and maintenance costs. The initial

fee was Rs. 15/family/month for 20L/family/day. Water quality results from several years are
available in Figure 12. Appropriate operation and maintenance through the activity of the local
community club and STHF has ensured that safe water is easily accessible.

Figure 10. Google maps image of Nabarun Sangha Community Club location.

Figure 11. A man suffering from drinking high levels of arsenic in Gaighata, N. 24 Parganas,
West Bengal.

Figure 12. Arsenic breakthrough history for two cycles of an arsenic removal unit using hybrid
anion exchange resin at Nabarun Sangha Community Club, Ashoknagar in West Bengal, India
(originally published in Water Research Vol. 44, 2010, 5813-5822).

Nabarun Sangha Community Club
In 2010, the demand by the users at Nabarun Sangha exceeded the production capacity, so the
system was expanded by Lehigh University and STHF with an additional treatment column
operating in parallel. Funding was provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
for this installation. The high demand is evident because the number of families had plateaued
around 400 from 2008-2009 after steadily increasing from 2005-2008 and there was a significant
queue of people who were unable to be served. After installation, the number of users increased,
as seen by the green columns in Figure 13.


Figure 13. Increase in the number of families consuming safe water from Nabarun Sangha
Community Club, Ashoknagar, West Bengal. Note: An additional arsenic treatment system was
installed in 2010 to meet increased demand.

2011- 2012
Sakthi Sadhana Community Club Installation
Sakthi Sadhana Community Club approached STHF in 2011 to install an arsenic treatment system
to provide safe water to their community of over 700 families. A contract was established between
STHF and Sakthi Sadhana Community Club outlining the responsibilities of each party. The
system installation was completed in J une 2011 and has been fully under the auspices of the
Sakthi Sadhana Community Club and the Club Secretary Bipul Ghosh (+91-8436157965). After
installation, families were monthly paying Rs. 30 for 20L/day. Payment and water pickup was
verified through the use of water cards that are signed by the water caretaker during each water
pick-up, Figure 14. Individuals who want water delivered to their house pay an additional fee
dependent on the distance traveled between the system and the customers house (up to Rs.
120/month), Figure 15.

Figure 14. (L). A water card used by families at Sakthi Sadhana Club to pick-up their daily water
allotment (R).

Figure 15. Paid van-rickshaw drivers transport safe, arsenic-free water up to 5 km (left). Cycle
rickshaw driver delivers safe water (right).
During the previous fiscal year, STHF has been heavily involved in creating long-lasting
infrastructure to provide safe water to people who consume groundwater naturally contaminated
with arsenic or fluoride, especially in West Bengal and Karnataka. In this light, an arsenic
treatment system has been installed in Shimurali Village, Nadia District, West Bengal and a
fluoride treatment system has been installed in Yellampalli Village, Bagepalli Taluk, Karnataka.
Both systems were funded by STHF and fabricated and installed by Ramkrishna (Water Solution)
Enterprise. Civil construction was greatly improved at the arsenic treatment system at
Binimaypara in May 2011. Additionally, a permanent structure has been under construction since
J uly 2012 that is becoming the headquarters and laboratory space for STHF.
Arsenic Installation in Shimurali, Nadia, West Bengal
Ruplekha Banerjee (+91-98302-10461), Figure 16, is a resident of Shimurali who has been
working with NGOs to provide arsenic safe water to people throughout West Bengal for the past
12 years. She is knowledgeable on the water issues facing many people throughout the region.
Ruplekha approached STHF for financing and technical guidance for installing a community-scale
treatment facility at her house to help protect her community and to operate a profitable business.
Ruplekha formed her own water company, Aqua Bengal Enterprise, who approached STHF for
the financing to create a water business. As can be seen in Figure 15, both parties accepted the
conditions of the contract.

Figure 16. Rulpekha Banerjee proudly displaying the contract signed between Aqua Bengal
Enterprise and STHF (L). Banner for Aqua Bengal Enterprise proudly displayed on her new
arsenic treatment facility (R).
Prior to installation of arsenic treatment facilities, Ruplekha was responsible for construction of
the necessary civil structure for safely and securely supporting the arsenic filters. Afterwards,
STHF contracted Ramkrishna (Water Solution) Enterprise for Rs. 1,10,000 to complete all
necessary parts of the arsenic treatment system. Ramkrishna (Water Solution) Enterprise
completed construction by March 20, 2013 and the initial water treatment reports indicated the
raw water is unsafe, but the treated water is safe. Taste reports are also favorable for the water,
Figure 17.


Figure 17. Completed arsenic treatment system on Rupleekhas rooftop (L). A child enjoying the
taste of arsenic-safe water (R).
During fiscal year 2013-2014, Aqua Bengal Enterprise will be increasing their customer base to
become a financially sustainable, profitable business. Aqua Bengal Enterprise will pay back the
capital costs to STHF over three years, so that STHF can continue providing new loans for future
arsenic treatment systems. STHF will remain actively involved at Ruplekhas treatment system to
ensure high quality performance by ensuring necessary operation and maintenance practices are
Fluoride Research System in Yellampali Village
During the Spring 2012 semester, Dr. Arup K. SenGupta was a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar at the
Indian Institute of Science- Bangalore (IISc). The time at IISc created new opportunities for
collaboration with many professors, including Dr. Kesava Rao. In partnership between IISc,
Lehigh University, and STHF, it was decided to create a testing facility for novel fluoride removal
technologies. Conversations with the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology
(KSCST) assisted the selection of Yellampali Village, Bagepalli Taluk. At this location there is an
existing reverse osmosis (RO) system for fluoride removal that rejects 60-70% of the inlet water to
protect the membrane longevity. Such high wastage of groundwater is wholly inappropriate for a
drought-stricken state, such as Karnataka. Thus, a fluoride testing platform was financed by STHF
(Rs. 40,000) and installed by Ramkrishna (Water Solution) Enterprise, Figure 18, to treat the RO
waste for potable use; it would be ideal to treat the raw water instead of the concentrate, but many
RO systems are already in operation. Testing is underway for a control system of normal fluoride-
removal materials. Promising lab-scale results will be quickly scaled-up for testing at Yellampali.

Figure 18. Novel fluoride treatment testing system operated by IISc at Yellampali Village.


Arsenic Treatment System Improvements at Binimaypara
The arsenic treatment system at Binimaypara was originally installed in 2005 and is one of the
oldest systems being maintained by STHF. After many years of significant use, additional repairs
were performed during May 2012 to maintain local confidence in the safe water produced by
arsenic-selective adsorbents. The newly renovated structure can be seen in Figure 19. New
chemical dosing systems have been installed that will increase the lifespan of LayneRT at a
minimal fee. Monthly test results indicated regeneration was necessary in J anuary-February 2013,
at which point STHF assisted in providing regenerated LayneRT resin to Swapan Paul and the
water committee. After loading regenerated resin, the treated water again met Indian drinking
water standards. The total cost of work at Binimaypara was Rs. 1,00,000.

Figure 19. Arsenic treatment facility at Binimaypara, Ashok Nagar, N. 24 Parganas.

Construction of STHF Headquarters-Laboratory
STHF was growing and needed more room for storing materials, laboratory space for performing
experiments, a guest house for hosting international academics, etc. To meet these needs a new
building began being constructed J uly 2012 at P110, Aabas Housing Cooperative Society,
Kolkata- 700104 by Md. Safik (+91-97337-39283), as seen in Figure 20. The building has a
ground floor, first floor, second floor, and garage. There is space for a loading dock for

importing/exporting goods, laboratory space, and a guest house. On-going construction includes
electricity connection, tubewell installation, plaster of paris, etc. Total cost has been Rs. 2 lakh.

Figure 20. STHF headquarters under construction.

Regular Observation of Ashoknagar Arsenic Treatment Systems
All mechanical systems need some regular maintenance and care for proper operation. Arsenic-
selective adsorbents must have the outlet arsenic concentration checked regularly to make sure
capacity is still high. Local communities, e.g., Binimaypara, Nabarun Sangha, and Sakthi
Sadhana, are supposed to regularly check arsenic concentrations in treated water at local labs, but
sometimes they may forget or dont want to pay for testing. STHF regularly monitors performance
at the operating plants, to make sure the groups are complying with protocols. Face-face
conversations are critical to understand the importance of non-technical factors in providing
people safe water. But, Binimaypara, Nabarun Sangha, and Sakthi Sadhana Community Clubs
have performed well over the last year with regards to arsenic removal, Figure 21. Nabarun
Sangha continues to operate successfully under Secretary Bikash Biltu (+91-9830646238)


Figure 21. Conversation with system caretaker (L); Sakthi Sadhana Treatment system (M);
Nabarun Sanghas past construction (R).

Providing Technical Guidance for Water Treatment Systems in Bantala
In work with Weavers Studio (Kavita Patel, +91-98743-14888), STHF has been providing
technical guidance for water analysis and treatment for many different schools and communities
throughout Bantala, Figure 22 or Groundwater in this area is often
high in iron and total dissolved solids (TDS), as seen in Figure 23. STHF is working with local
organizations to provide iron-free water to places in need. But, the lack of electricity and
obedience at possible installation sites has delayed any funding for system implementation.

Figure 22. Location of work with two schools in Bantala.

Figure 23. High iron concentration in groundwater from Durgapur School (Bantala).

Updates at Ruplekhas Arsenic Treatment Installation
Although Ruplekhas water was safe to drink, it developed calcium carbonate precipitate (i.e.,
white sediment) after standing for some time. To fix this aesthetic concern preventing local water
sales, an additional unit was installed to eliminate hardness and alkalinity that contribute to
sediment formation. An initial small-scale test unit was installed that proved the proof-of-concept.
Later in the year a larger, more robust system was installed for long-term use.

Figure 24. Installation of ion exchange syte

Office and Laboratory Construction at Thakurpukur
The construction of the office and laboratory at Thakurpukur continued throughout 2013-2014.
The laboratory space had several pieces of lab equipment installed (Rs. 4 lakh) that will now
support much testing, evaluation, and development work for new water filters to be installed
throughout India and the greater world. International scholars will also find the equipment
desirable to use for local groundwater treatment projects. Many chemicals were also purchased to
support research and field-scale efforts in creating advanced solutions to combat the arsenic and
fluoride crisis impacting India and Southeast Asia. A water treatment system was installed on-site
for removal of iron from the tap water for potable and laboratory use.

Figure 25. Examining the newly installed water system column for synthesis and testing.

Figure 26. THF staff using the laboratory to analyze water samples.
Sending Arsenic Treatment System to Bangladesh

Ramkrishna Water Enterprises fabricated an arsenic-removal system for use in Bangladesh. The
fabrication was paid for by another organization. The system was then exported from India to
Bangladesh and received on the Bangladesh side through efforts and payments by THF.

Figure 27. Packed treatment system ready to send to Bangladesh.

Import of Arsenic Treatment Materials from the US
LayneRT resin was shipped from the US to THF for future arsenic treatment systems. The
material was imported by THF from the USA through the Kolkata port, including all necessary
paperwork, payments, etc. Total cost was Rs. 5 lakh.


Figure 28. Imported arsenic treatment materials now in storage at Thakurpukur.

Updates of System at Binimaypara
With concerns about early breakthrough time and poor fluid dynamics inside the columns, the
columns were replaced with new systems by Ramkrishna Water Enterprise. Additional taps were
installed for use with the existing treated water storage tank to increase water flowrate.
Overall efforts are being done at Binimaypara to create a water enterprise. A new caretaker has
been hired and is supported by THF (Rs. 4,000/month) and the local water committee (Rs.
1000/month). New water branding efforts are being done to sell treated water as a desirable good,
not a mandatory necessity.

Figure 29. Improved columns and distribution at Binimaypara, WB.

Installation of Water Treatment Facility at Ballia, UP
Mr. Ashok Singh and Pey J al Samity Haldi have been operating a newly installed arsenic
treatment system starting December 2013. The system was installed with support and guidance
from THF. The number of customers and revenues has grown remarkably each month at a rate
over 10%. After 3 months, over 120 families were buying 20L water per day at a rate of Rs. 100
per month. RiteWater Solutions (I) Pvt. Ltd. supported the installation with a donation of Rs. 1.2

Figure 30. New system in Ballia.
Fabrication of Novel Fluoride Treatment System for Jabhua, MP
Ramkrishna Water Enterprise has fabricated a fluoride treatment system for installation in J abhua,
MP. This will use innovative material that is being developed at THFs new laboratory constructed
in Thakurpukur, West Bengal. The civil work has been started locally and will also be supported
by another NGO, Community Friendly Movement.

Figure 31. Newly fabricated system for fluoride treatment research in J abhua, MP.