Supply of clean drinking water is considered to be the hallmark of a truly developed and integrated society. Owing to the largescale agriculture and anthropogenic stress, improving drinking water quality has become a nationwide issue and tackling it depends on the young generation of students who can draw upon their creativity to provide simple and effective solutions which may be readily adopted by the rural communities. A rural drinking water technology hackathon was conceptualised by the IIT Kharagpur Director, Prof Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, who has been mentoring the Design Innovation Centre (DIC) ever since its inception.
The two-day event was planned as part of international workshop on Rural Water Quality and Management. Two teams of postgraduate students and research scholars from the School of Water Resources, Jadavpur University (Debdas Chowdhury, Saurabh Kumar Basak and Priyabrata Mandal) emerged winners of the Rural Drinking Water Technology Hackathon organized by the Design Innovation Centre of IIT Kharagpur.
They advocated the use of rusted nails for the adsorption of arsenic at minimal cost. They also showed the use of the dual filter media of anionic resin and activated alumina for removal of arsenic and fluoride from water.
The aim of the Hackathon was to explore cost-effective and innovative solutions to address the challenges related to drinking water problems in rural India. While giving out prizes to the winners, Prof. Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, Deputy Director, IIT Kharagpur, reminded the teams that besides evolving technologies that were “simple and economically viable”, they also needed to remember that removed pollutants should not go back to the water source/supply.
As many as 13 teams from premier engineering institutes from eastern India participated in the Hackathon sponsored by the Design Innovation Centre at IIT Kharagpur that was set up recently under the government of India’s “National Initiative for Design Innovation”.
The second prize was lifted by Usha Kumari, a Chemical Engineering student of IIT Kharagpur who devised a way to remove fluoride from water with alumina activated by sulphuric acid. The third prize was jointly shared by Siddharth T from NIT Warangal, who showed how plants can be used for ‘phytoremediation’, and a Neelanjan Dutta from IIEST Shibpur, who showed how electrocoagulation can be used to remove arsenic from water.
The winning technologies at the Hackathon were discussed at the workshop on ‘Rural Water Quality and Management’, organized by Prof. B.C. Meikap and Prof. P. Mishra, that began on May 14-16 at IIT Kharagpur. The workshop is being held jointly with the University of Edinburgh. The winning teams of the Hackathon will have their projects funded by the DIC and can work in association with IIT Kharagpur to further develop their ideas.
A team from the University of Edinburgh judged the Hackathon in association with IIT Kharagpur. Prof. Kate Heal of the university said, “I was greatly impressed by the diversity of ideas –from phytoremediation, solutions of rainwater harvesting, to the number of filtration systems, some of the contestants had also thought about the economy and access to water.” Also present was Prof. Neil Robertson, whose team has been working on photocatalysts.
The Hackathon showcased easy-to-implement technologies that made use of locally available materials like rice husk, biochar, sawdust, iron nails, gravel, the ubiquitous ‘matka’ or clay water pot. The programme was coordinated by Prof. P.B.S. Bhadoria and coordinator Aditya Bandopadhyay of IIT Kharagpur, and convened by Prof. Somnath Ghosal from the Rural Development Centre of IIT Kharagpur. The momentum set by the Hackathon will continue with the International Workshop on Rural Water Quality and Management.
Graphics : Suman Sutradhar