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Indian ExpressIndia Today, Down to Earth

As the lead Indian partner, IIT Kharagpur will be steering the multi-institutional, multi-crore Saraswati 2.0 project for the rejuvenation and treatment of water funded by the European Union and the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Biotechnology. The overall objective of Saraswati 2.0 is to identify the best available as well as affordable technologies for wastewater treatment and provide solutions to the challenges of water use in both rural and urban areas.

Saraswati 2.0 builds on the Saraswati project of 2012-17, which was jointly funded by the European Commission and DST, Government of India. The Saraswati project aimed at supporting consolidation, replication and upscaling of sustainable waste water treatment and reuse technologies for India.

Untreated domestic and municipal wastewater is a major source of water and environmental pollution. At the same time, water pollution reduces the available unpolluted freshwater resources and therefore causes increased costs for safe water supply. Treatment of wastewater not only avoids pollution of the water sources, such as rivers, lakes and ponds, but also provides a valuable additional source for water supply. Treated wastewater can be used for agricultural irrigation or for non-potable purposes such as toilet flushing.

Climate change, floods and droughts, increasing demand of water, water pollution, environment and food security are the common concerns of both the regions. For some time now, India and Europe have been collaborating intensively on water, enriching each other’s technological and scientific knowledge and management capacities to cope with stress on water resources.

Three plants –an anaerobic digester with bio-electro chemical filter, another with photoheterotropic bioreactor and a plant for ultrasonic treatment of sludge – will be set up at IIT Kharagpur to not only produce re-usable quality treated water, but also to see whether treated water can be further exploited and treated so that the compost or value added products that is produced is free of pathogens and farmers can use it.

Prof. Makarand Madhao Ghangrekar, professor in charge of IIT Kharagpur’s Aditya Choubey Center for Re-water Research, said, “IIT Kharagpur is the principal investigator and partner for three pilot projects. We will be using different technologies, the success of which will be evaluated based on the performance of the pilot plants”.  Construction of these pilots is expected to start soon and the plants will be commissioned by January 2020.

Seven other pilot plants will be set-up in the partnering Indian institutes. Saraswati 2.-0 will lead to the transfer of European technologies to India, which would require them to be tested, demonstrated, and customized to suit Indian needs at an affordable cost. The target is to not only facilitate exchange of technology but also deploy the technology, once they are tested and tried, for the entire Indian population.

Saraswati 2.0, with an overlay of INR 15 crore, – has been selected under the EU-India Joint Call on Research and Innovation for Water. The EU, through its research and innovation programme ‘Horizon 2020’, and the Government of India (DST and DBT), will invest a total of upto EUR 40 million (INR 323 crore) on various water related projects, which have an average duration of 4 years.

IIT Kharagpur will be managing the project together with its lead European partner, BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna). Among the other Indian partners in the project are IIT Madras, IIT Bhubaneswar, IIT Roorkee, NITIE, Mumbai, MNIT Jaipur, TERI School of Advanced Studies. They will be executing the project in collaboration with leading universities and institutes from Europe. European and Indian businesses and SMEs are also participating to test the manufacturing of wastewater treatment technologies and systems.

Graphics : Suman Sutradhar

By Chirosree Basu

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