IIT-Kharagpur will steer Saraswati 2.0 — a multi-institutional and multi-crore project funded by the European Union, and the departments of Science and Technology and Biotechnology of the Central government — to treat waste water and make it potable.
The project is set to begin at IIT Kharagpur next month.
“IIT-Kharagpur is the overall Indian coordinator and partner for three pilot projects. While there was a Saraswati project in which we treated waste water, the aim of this project is to treat waste water to a standard that it can be potable. We are experimenting with different technologies… Of course, once we reach this standard, the water will not be used for drinking, but for horticulture and other such uses. Three plants — an anaerobic digester with bio-electro chemical filter, another with photoheterotropic bioreactor and one for ultrasonic treatment of sludge — will be set up at IIT-Kharagpur,” said Prof Makarand Madhao Ghangrekar, Professor in-charge of IIT-Kharagpur’s Aditya Choubey Center for Re-Water Research.
While construction of these pilots is expected to begin soon, the plants themselves will be commissioned by January 2020. The overall objective of Saraswati 2.0 is to identify the best available and affordable technologies and provide solutions to challenges in both rural and urban areas, said the professor.
The technologies are to be provided by various universities and research institutes in Europe and will then be adopted by IIT and its other partner institutes. Seven other pilot plants will be set up in the partnering Indian institutes. At a household decentralised level, septic tanks are used for removal of 35-40 per cent organic matter and around 50-60 per cent solids from sewage. The cost of wastewater treatment hovers around Rs 7-10 per KL for secondary treatment in centralised treatment plants, however they are unable to produce safe reusable quality treated water, except for restricted irrigation, and further tertiary treatment is required. This tertiary treatment will add on the treatment cost… which could be in the range of Rs 10-50 per KL,” said Prof Ghangrekar.
With an overlay of Rs 15 crore, Saraswati 2.0 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 Centre’s departments, will invest a total of upto Rs 323 crore on various projects, which have an average duration of 4 years.
IIT Kharagpur will manage the project with its lead European partner — BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna).
Among other Indian partners are IIT-Madras, IIT-Bhubaneswar, IIT-Roorkee, NITIE, Mumbai, MNIT Jaipur and TERI School of Advanced Studies.