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To provide arsenic-free drinking water in rural areas at cheap rates, a new water purification project was today launched in West Bengal. 

The 'Sulabh Drinking Water' project converts pond water into safe drinking water and can be sold at only 50 paise per litre. 

"This is an innovative model from France-based organisation '1001 Fontaines', which uses a four-stage purification process to provide safe drinking water from ponds. In many places of West Bengal, people are forced to drink arsenic-contaminated water. This will solve the problem," Sulabh founder Dr Bindeshwar Pathak told PTI. 

Pathak inaugurated the pilot project in three districts of North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad and Nadia. 

The new water purification process has a capacity to produce 8,000 litres of potable water per day at a cost of 10 paise. 

"It will be sold at 50 paise after including other costs like distribution, storing, etc. Even people in neighbouring villages can also safely use this water," Pathak said. 

The installation cost of the machine comes to Rs 20 lakh, which was shared between the French organisation, Sulabh and the villagers. 

"The villagers and local NGOs are going to maintain this. It is a self-sustainable project with active participation from the community," said the activist who had initiated the concept of 'Sulabh Sauchalaya' (public toilets) in the country. 

Ground water in nine districts of are estimated to have been severely affected by arsenic contamination. 

According to WHO, drinking arsenic-rich water over a long period results in various health hazards, including skin problems, skin cancer, cancer of the bladder, kidney and lung, besides other diseases.

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