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Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh. Behind him are the Calcutta wetlands, and right fishermen at work.

Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh: Calcutta Wetlands Project

Five kilometres from the eastern edge of Calcutta, one of the most densely populated and polluted areas of India are some very large, shallow ponds with sparkling water.

Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh is the man responsible for these ponds.

"Give me poverty and sunshine and I can give you clean water," he simply says.

In essence, the Calcutta Wetlands are formed from the waste water of the city; and yet they are clean enought for fish to live in, providing a source of food as well as a pleasant living space in the heart of the city.

Something very special

23 years ago Dr Ghosh was amazed to find that Calcutta's residents had created something very special with no knowledge of science, eco systems or ecology.

Out of necessity they had come up with a system which worked and all that was needed was a man to improve what they had already developed.

He has created a beautiful space where birds sing and the water no longer stinks. What is his secret?

How does it work?

Put simply special algae feed on the waste and growth is promoted with plenty of sunshine, which also produces much needed oxygen as a by product. Fish feed on the algae and the farmers eat and sell the fish.

Dr Ghosh said, "I am still learning how this delicate eco system works, how to further refine it, and why some places are better suited than others.

"However, in principle there is no reason why this simple system can’t be duplicated wherever there is filthy waste water and sunshine.

"This is the only water cleaning system which actually makes a profit and gives back money to the government. Although this water is still not clean enough to drink it does create a thriving economy which could pay for further filters or water cleaning systems.

"I am happy to give any advice or help absolutely free, this is the best system of its kind in the world and could be helping millions of people. If I have failed in one thing it is this; not enough people know about it or are benefiting from it."

Related website:
The Calcutta Wetlands: Turning Bad Water Into Good
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Listen to the radio series:
Solutions parts 1-4

BBC World Service Online spoke to Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh in February 2003
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