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India to work with EU, Germany, UK on water challenges

New Delhi : India and the European Union have decided to jointly take up seven research and innovations projects aimed at addressing urgent challenges in areas relating to water in India, including the ongoing flagship Ganga rejuvenation programme.

The joint programme would have funding available to the tune of Euro 40 million (about Rs 320 crore). At the same time, India and Germany too have joined hands in areas of water and waste management.

Under the EU-India Joint Call on Research and Innovation for Water, the seven selected projects will develop new or adapt the most suitable existing innovative and affordable solutions for Indian conditions, both in urban and rural areas, for providing solutions to the urgent water challenges.

The projects selected are India-H20, Lotus and Pani Water, Pavitr, Pavitra Ganga, Saeaswati 2.0 and spring.

Under the India-EU joint programme, as many as 130 entities, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), universities and municipal corporations, would work together on time-bound projects that are aimed at improving quality of drinking water, wastewater management and real-time monitoring of water systems.

Besides supporting the government initiative to rejuvenate the Ganga, the projects will also support transfer of European technologies to India, which would require them to be tested, demonstrated, and customised to suit Indian needs at an affordable cost. The cooperation will also lead to increased scientific excellence while ensuring that the technology can be deployed and be of benefit to the entire population.

Uneven distribution of water resources triggered by climate change, extreme water-related events (floods and droughts) and increasing demand due to population growth and economic development, as well as water pollution add additional stress to water, environment and food security.

“Many of these water challenges are common to India and the EU. The selected research and innovation projects will aim at addressing these key water issues together with India and in doing so, will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals to which both Europe and India are committed,” an official statement quoted EU Ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski as saying.

While India-H2O will focus on developing bio-mimetic and phyto-technologies for low-cost purification and recycling of water, the focus of Lotus project will be on developing cheaper and innovative technologies for water quality monitoring and water resource management in urban and rural areas.

Under Pani Water, research groups will seek to develop newer photo-irradiation and adsorption based technologies for water treatment, while the project Spring is meant for developing biotechnical treatment solutions and good practices for water resource planning and implementation.

Developing innovative decentralised water treatment technologies for urban and peri-urban areas will also be attempted as part of these projects which would be carried out over the next four years. The Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Biotechnology will be responsible for the Indian part of the funding, the statement said.

Meanwhile, during the meeting of the Third Indo-German Working Group for cooperation on water and waste management in New Delhi recently, both countries discussed areas of potential cooperation and decided to work on developing reference documents for the textile sector, water governance, marine litter, waste to energy landfill sites, water quality management, training and capacity building of local bodies and Circular Economy.

Also, the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi is going to partner in a £20-million international collaboration that seeks to develop new approaches to provide solutions and tackle challenges related to water security and its sustainable development.

The project is funded by United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy that puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Recently, a project was launched under the aegis of Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), IIT-Delhi, to bring together leading global experts from academia, industry and government to discuss upon the true value of water and address the challenge of water security.

The UKRI-GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub will be one of the 12 hubs being set up to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing today’s society.

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