breaking news E

Dr. Nupur Bahadur, Senior Fellow & Area Convenor, TADOX® Technology Centre for Water Reuse and
Head, NMCG-TERI CoE on Water Reuse, Water Resources Division, TERI

India: There could never be a more opportune moment for the water sector in the country when the mandate, missions, policies, and funding from the Central Government are all aligned to meet the larger objectives of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health) and United Nations SDG 6.

From providing tap connection to every household to providing adequate ‘quantity’ of water for potable/non-potable use and sanitation, rejuvenating rivers, treating & managing wastewater, enhancing reuse, etc., a lot of efforts have been put across during the last few years.

Still, the key challenge of ‘quality’ of water needs to be addressed in a more holistic manner, which is widely related to issues of ‘inadequate’ treatment of wastewater, contaminated groundwater with the presence of arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals, pesticides from agricultural run-offs, and various anthropogenic activities leading to issues of froth, high ammonia levels, etc. in surface and river water.

Such issues require a clear understanding, evidence-based R&D analysis, newer integrated approaches in problem-solving, promoting and adopting novel, advanced, and promising indigenous technologies, along with corroborating with secondary data and existing reports. Especially now, when the Government of India has come up with ambitious missions of SBM 2.0 and AMRUT 2.0, it becomes even more important that the focus be on the ‘quality’ of treated water along with ‘quantity’ to make efficient and optimal reuse. It will only then be possible for such Missions to achieve true success.

So far as direct R&D funding in the water sector is concerned, there is funding support from the Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India under the DST-Water Mission, Water Technology Initiative (WTI) Program, and other schemes; however, these primarily focuses on basic and applied research in different areas related to water. But today when we have so many Missions dedicated to water, we need to speed up and have an incentivised, dedicated, and mission mode R&D funding in the water sector. For which now I think the Ministry of Jal Shakti should directly take the lead and needs to focus on advanced research and technology upgradation to solve both issues of quantity and quality of water which will ultimately lead to the success of its various national missions in true sense.

Some of the advanced, novel and promising areas of R&D and technology intervention in the water sector include nanotechnology, advanced oxidation technology, epidemiology studies, IoT and sensor-based monitoring, digital twins, resource and energy-efficient desalination technologies, water circularity& resource recovery, water-energy nexus, etc.

• In this regard, Union Budget 2022-23 should have a major focus on advanced R&Dand technology upgradation in water sector with huge funding in the mission mode approach directly with the Ministry of Jal Shakti. Whereas funding for basic and applied R&D should continue with the Ministry of S&T.

Through Atal Innovation Mission, Start-Up Grants and Invest India Fund, etc., a major innovation and start-up eco-system has been developed. In fact, the funding is now much more focused, need and theme-based. However, with the ongoing pandemic, the R&D funding across various schemes and sectors is limited and has been diverted for other essential services.

Therefore, it becomes imperative to bring in the private sector and industry participation and make the long-standing demand for Industry-Academia Partnership, a reality.

• It is, in this context, Union Budget 2022-23 should incentivise and increase the limit of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to be utilized directly through Centres of Excellence (CoE) targeting advanced and indigenous technology development initiatives and serving the missions of national importance like the Clean India, Namami Gange, Swachh Bharat Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission, etc.

There still exists a wide gap between technology providers and early adopters. Therefore, it is high time that the gap is bridged with the incentivised field implementation of existing policies in the water and wastewater sectors.

• The Union Budget 2022-23 should implement existing schemes for adoption of newer and cleaner technologies in Water Sector like:

 

  1. Micro and Small Enterprises-Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP) Scheme for improving skills and capacity building in technology upgradation and understanding of newer and cleaner technology options in wastewater treatment and reuse.
  2. Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) which aims to catalyse investment in the MSME sector by providing subsidies and assistance to upgrade existing technologies which may be used in point-source pollution abatement and prevention. Under TUFS, it is possible to improve the quality of the entire value chain, reduce sludge, chemicals, cost, and secondary pollution.
  3. Integrated Processing Development Scheme (IPDS) for adoption of cleaner technologies to set up water and waste management plans.
  4. Scheme of Integrated Textile Parks (SITP) for the newer and upcoming textile parks, which should be incentivized to adopt newer and cleaner technology[MoT 2017 Guidelines].

Dr. Nupur Bahadur is Senior Fellow & Area Convenor, TADOX® Technology Centre for Water Reuse and Head, NMCG-TERI Centre of Excellence on Water Reuse, Water Resources Division, TERI. She is also the Vice-Chairman, International Water Association (IWA)-India, and inventor of TERI’s Advanced Oxidation Technology (TADOX®) to treat municipal sewage and highly polluting industrial wastewater. Her technology intervention aims at integrated approach, resource & energy efficiency, sludge & cost reduction, ZLD, and enhanced water reuse. TERI’s TADOX® Technology is developed under DST-Water Mission, Water Technology Initiative (WTI) Program of Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and the NMCG-TERI CoE on Water Reuse is funded by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Ministry of Jal Shakti, Govt. of India.

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