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Thailand: Message from Osho Paramdham Meditation Center

prem abhay: Drinking Water Contamination at OIMR, Pune, India
Date: Dec 12, 2007, 5:43

Some four monsoons ago there was a serious contamination problem with the Osho International Meditation Resort's drinking water. People drank this water and it is my opinion nothing substantial was done to fix the problem. Hence after the following monsoon the microbiology consultant informed me that the contamination last monsoon (now three monsoons ago) was considerably worse. I have an honours degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering, and this report is based on my experience, understanding, and communication with three other sannyassin Engineers, he microbiology consultant, and the head of the microbiology consultancy.

Water Contamination Report: Osho International Meditation Resort, Pune, India.

Why is it that I have said that the water treatment system is (was) in a seriously neglected state?

I am an Engineer, and this article is based on recollections of interactions with 3 Engineers, the microbiology consultant, and the head of the microbiology consultancy company. Some of the content of this article is based on recollections that may be partial remembrances, or that may require clarification by another party.
Some four monsoons ago there was a major contamination of the resorts drinking water. A partial summary of the initial investigation into the situation was written by myself and the person in charge of the Water division of Facility Management department (also an Engineer). The following is based on this report.
There were no filters at the wells whatsoever. This had been the case for a number of years. The reason for their removal was apparently because they clog up too quickly with matter, especially calcium carbonate. The 16 in-line filters on the Jesus House plant were after the UV/chlorine system. This is a serious flaw in design as a primary function is to remove particulate matter such that the UV/chlorine system can work effectively.
If supply water is �murky’ the UV light cannot penetrate as effectively into the water to target pathogens; similarly, the chlorine cannot effectively perform its task as the chlorine breaks down during interaction with excess matter, and also, pathogens �hide’ in this excess matter and therefore cannot be targeted by the chlorine. Hence (especially) in the monsoon when the well water becomes �stirred up’ these filters cannot perform a key part of their function, as they filter the water after the water purification process. This problem is amplified because the filters at the wells have been removed.
In regard to the Mahakashapa plant, there was no filtration system whatsoever. I repeat this for emphasis, on the Mahakashapa water treatment plant there was no filtering of water at all!! In fact there had never been any filtering of water at the Mahakashapa water treatment plant. I find this quite remarkable.
Actually there is a filtration system (a large some 3metre in diameter dome) for the Mahakashapa plant. The only trouble is that this is not connected, and has never been connected, as the system works so well it takes out all the chlorine. Hence there would be no residual chlorine to keep the water clean as it travels to the end user. From memory this filtration system uses charcoal, and it is the charcoal that removes the chlorine.
It is important here to make here a second qualification. For each drinking water station there was an individual filter (expensive and European) that uses activated carbon and colloidal silver. However with no filters at the wells, and the central filtration system (a dome construction some 3 metres in diameter) disconnected, this hardly seems adequate. This filter is, like the residual level of chlorine, in place to ensure that treated water remains so when it reaches the end user.
In relation to food, what this means is that all the water that goes into the food in the main kitchen was (perhaps is) unfiltered – as was (perhaps is) all the water that goes anywhere in the resort from the Mahakashapa treatment plant! (Perhaps filtered Jesus House water gets redirected to the central kitchen; however this I think is unlikely and perhaps technically unfeasible).
Also, from my recollections with conversations, there were repeated efforts to purchase filters for the wells – including submission of application for purchase prior to leaving the centre prior to the time of four monsoons ago by an Engineer who was involved with not commissioning the main system. My guess here is that this person possibibly missed the fact that by not connecting the central filtration system, this leaves the water essentially unfiltered - due to the fact that the filters at the wells had been removed.
Perhaps this person(s), did not miss this as from my recollection resort engineers were actively (and unsuccessfully) trying to purchase filters for the wells and drinking water stations. Taking into account their rejected efforts to purchase things like little new filters to replace years old little old filters, what chance would they have to address the problem of a big new central filtration system that does not work properly. So perhaps they did not miss the problem of lack of filtration, and then later on felt guilty about this, and due to this guilt thought that my gosh we really missed a big one. In short perhaps they missed that they did not miss that something was missing. If they did miss that they did not miss that something was missing, I only hope that they now do not miss this. Which ever way things fell, the bottom line is that something very important was and perhaps still is, missing!!!
There were repeated efforts by three or four engineers over a number of years to purchase new filters for either the drinking stations or wells. The filters at the drinking stations were old, and it is very simple to check whether this is the case. The request for new filters at the drinking water stations was not even granted when the major contamination problem was identified some four monsoons ago – I still find this astounding! The engineers in my opinion were primarily doing the best they could given absurd constraints.
People drank contaminated water four monsoons ago. At first this was because the problem had not been identified. After the drinking water stations were �closed� there was a problem with some people ignoring this closure and gaining access to the drinking water. These people reopened very obviously closed drinking water taps - by for example taking off signs and removing plastic bags, taping and or string - and therefore led to the possibility of other people drinking this water. I assumed that the people removing the signs were Indian nationals who were not concerned by the contamination - perhaps because they (perhaps correctly) thought that this water would anyhow be cleaner than the local council tap water. More and more steps were taken to in response to some very determined people. In hindsight I do not know why the taps weren’t simply turned off. Perhaps there was not a main on/off tap. However to insert a tap would have not been a big deal. The suggested direction that I did make to try and resolve the problem and still give some Indian nationals access to potentially �cleaner’ water may give an indication of why this simple option did not take place.
I made the suggestion to put up a very clear sign stating �do not drink this water as it is contaminated’. I was told that this was a good idea and that a sannyassin lawyer would take up the task of appropriately wording the sign. The sign however made reference to the drinking water stations being �closed for cleaning’, not closed due to contamination. I made mention that in my opinion the wording of the sign fails to achieve its aim. I said that with all the drinking water stations closed people would generally be aware that there is a contamination problem. Hence, I argued, by saying that the stations are closed for cleaning, actually you are making people aware that you are deceiving them - that is in addition to deceiving them in the first place. My comments had no practical outcome that I am aware of - that is in relation to the signs.
A fuller wording of the sign said something along the lines for example that �due to the current heavy monsoon, the drinking water station is closed for cleaning, please purchase bottled water from the cappuccinno bar�. It might be argued that this wording indicates that the water is not drinkable as the �cleaning’ process makes it so. However firstly it is false. Secondly, as I recall, the sign was not general in nature as it gave reference to each individual drinking water station, and hence gave the impression that the cleaning was localized and routine in nature. (Perhaps the signs did say that �the drinking water stations are closed for cleaning�; if this is the case than the previous argument is less valid). Thirdly, with the important aim of addressing the problem of people continuing to gain access to potentially contaminated water, �closed for cleaning� is ineffectually euphemistic.
Perhaps some people involved with trying to keep the drinking water stations closed missed that there is a simple answer - install a tap - because of a culture of utter disregard for human health and safety, emanating from other people.
After the monsoon (now four monsoons ago) I received an email telling me about the sparkling water at the swimming pool – sparkling because of a brand new pool filtration system. I sincerely hope that the same is the case for water purification in general. If this is not the case - if for example money is spent on making the swimming pool water sparkling clean, whilst drinking water and water for the kitchen (and elsewhere) is poorly filtered and treated – this is in my opinion absolutely deplorable. Ironically water for the pool also comes from the resorts water treatment system. This is why for example an engineer who had previously been in charge of Water management at the resort for many years commented to me that during the relevant monsoon he would have had the swimming pool closed; with at one time (as I recall) an E.coli reading of close to 1000, this person considered people to in simple terms be �swimming in shit’!
If there is now no filtration system on the Mahakashapa water treatment plant it means that right now for example most of the water that goes into most of the food that most of the people eat – like a nice yummy watery Indian curry – is unfiltered. This is especially concerning in a heavy monsoon when the well water becomes stirred up. Oh well, what to do???!!!! We are doing the best we can!! If this is the response of the management team of the resort, it is in my opinion utterly incorrect and totally unconscionable.
I do not know what now is the case with respect to the water treatment system(s) at the resort. The reason for this is that I am �not welcome to visit� the resort. However at the heart of my efforts that have made me banned is to get the resort to fix the water treatment system. Why then would I think that anything significant has been done about this problem if I was told that �several people…feel this is the last place you should be�, and then I was told that I am �not welcome to visit�.
I now turn to an administrative question prior to summarizing. When the major contamination problem was identified some four monsoons ago, nothing substantial was done to rectify the problem.. All the drinking water stations were closed and there were some very obvious findings - like for example purchase some little filters: some to replace filters that have needed replacing for years, and others to fill the place where they had been removed (admittedly these filters had apparently a functional problem; however I am quite sure that problem could easily have been resolved)! Eventually the correct path to approach the situation revealed itself: an Engineer was to present the findings and directions to a Space Committee meeting
At the time, the fortnightly meeting was unfortunately more than a week away. However with some drinking water stations closed and others (in my opinion) reopened prematurely, and with some very obvious findings, this issue was apparently not important enough to bring the Space Committee meeting forward.
From here, as I recall, another remarkable thing occurred. A person had a sufficiently important reason to hold an emergency Space Committee meeting, such that the meeting was brought forward one week. However this important reason was not related to the water crisis. The emergency meeting took place and the Engineer, waiting for the next week to present the water issue, did not attend this meeting. The next meeting was scheduled for two weeks from the emergency meeting. This meant that the Engineer now had to wait more than two weeks to present the water issue. By this time the end of the monsoon had come and the water results were (probably) either absolutely or almost completely clean. Hence by the books there would have likely been no problem whatsoever. I do not know if the Engineer ever presented the case. However the case was very clear and simple.
The essential findings of the report were to purchase some items that obviously needed purchasing. As far as further directions, the head of the microbiology company made a number of suggestions of directions to tackle the problem – during a phone conversation with me. This person made it very clear that it was for example important to decontaminate the entire system, and offered a service to do this: once there is a major contamination, there is the likelihood of what is called a micro-film build up of pathogens throughout the system; essentially pathogens can find shelter throughout the system, and then multiply to the point that they cannot be adequately removed by residual chlorine; this colony can then release pathogens into the system (including after the central treatment system) and these pathogens can reach the end user. I am of the opinion that the decontamination process that took place was inadequate. In relation to the reopening process and the water situation in general, the relevant Engineer said to me very directly and clearly that the actions taken were done so within the framework of very strict and limited access to financial and other resources. I consider this framework to actually be untenable.
The head of the microbiology consultancy company also said to me that although he did not consider himself an expert in this field, he new of an expert, and this person was fortunately a resident of Pune. I recall that the conversations with the microbiology consultant formed part of the content of suggested directions in the preliminary water report.
In relation to the Space Committee itself and lines of responsibility let me make something very clear. I was working in food hygiene (not water) for the Kitchen Department not the Water division of Facility Management (formerly Housekeeping Department). I tried to support the relevant people in Facility Management on the water issue. Though I became involved in the water contamination issue, I was not the formal contact. I accept that at the centre I was very much on a personal journey and only open to limited social contact. However in my position as �food hygiene’ liason in the Kitchen Department I was always available for contact, never ever felt that someone felt any reservations with approaching me, and actually had significant contact with people – including Sodexo cooks and general staff. If anyone felt that they wanted to discuss any relevant issue and thought I was for some (perhaps personal) reason unavailable, then my co-ordinator should have been contacted – that being the second in charge of the Kitchen Department. On a pratical level however, if I was more approachable and if people wanted to approach me but did not for this reason, a better outcome may have eventuated. However I also consider the people I supported in the Water division of Facility Management to be very intelligent, informed, available, and ultimately the formal contact. If there was any communication problems in this area then the person responsible is the head of Facility Management.
As with at the time of the water issue, I am still on an inwardly focused personally journey that makes me in simple terms not particularly sociable nor approachable. This has meant that I have not taken the decision to for example arrange meetings and make social visits to Pune to resolve any misunderstandings – and to present my case in person. However I have made efforts to communicate respectfully and intelligently by phone and by email. Such efforts were met with (what I consider to be) threatening remarks, and me ultimately being banned from the resort.

To ask nicely can you please make the water clean and address the host of other serious health and safety issues is simply ineffectual. I have felt that it is absolutely critical to shed light on the situation at the resort, and hence have felt compelled to communicate in an assertive manner that some may wrongly take as aggressive or threatening. I have never endeavoured to be threatening, and have never undertaken to take any action that may be considered to be illegal or unethical. I consider some people involved with the resort to be guilty of serious wrongdoings; if this is the case then to these people I am a threat – a threat to wrongful action and conduct. However I am not making threats. Everything that I have written is factual, informed, and reasoned.
I have not for example written a single word on the futile drama about what is essentially a linguistic issue in relation to Osho’s samadhi. The remarks that I have made about people are not uninformed, malicious, personal gossip. The people that I have written about I am sure are very much aware of the nature of what I have written. Hence it is important to shut down this message. The circulation of meaningless linguistic trivia through various people and websites serves no purpose, and hence it does not matter that it circulates. What I have to say does matter and hence it is important not to circulate it. Hence it is important to slander me, kick me out of the resort, and make me an enemy of Osho. In time the truth that be otherwise will be revealed!
Returning to the central theme of water, primarily I consider the actions undertaken by Engineers to have been done so under duress. I also consider that excess financial pressures and time constraints would have been a constant attack on their capacity to work clearly and effectively. Was there for example a lot of pressure to open the Mahakashapa complex prior to an upcoming high season and new year – this old Buddha Hall structure may have also contributed to this. Also, I am under the impression that the Engineer responsible for bringing the water treatment system back online towards the end of the (four monsoons ago) monsoon did so with the following directive: fix this problem as soon as possible, and by the way, you can not have any money to do it. This impression I formed during my discussions with the relevant Engineer.
I would like to know if the water treatment system is now at least up to standard, and that people accept responsibility for their actions – whether they be inadvertent or not; and especially so if the actions be intentionally reprehensible.

The author of this article accepts no responsibility for the contents, whether expressed or implied.

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