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Planning and Review Workshop of the Water4Crops Project

15-17 June 2016, New Delhi

A three-day review and planning meeting of this EU-India Water4Crops project was held during 15-17 June 2016 in New Delhi. The experts shared some of the research outcomes, such as the work on constructed wetlands, which has led to significant levels of reduced pollution (30% to as 92%).  Wetland plant species such as Canna indica, lemon grass (Cymbopogon), napier (Pennisetum perpureum X Pennisetum americarnum), para grass (Urochloa mutica), typha (Typha latifolia), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and a weed species Agaratum Conyzoides have been identified for purifying the wastewater and reducing the nutrient load in the  free-water-surface and sub-surface constructed wetlands at field scale. Added to the benefits, field scale evaluations have also shown increased crop yields with treated wastewater as compared to fresh water. 

Speaking on the occasion in the inaugural session of the review meeting on 15th June 2016, Mr YS Chowdary, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Science & Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, highlighted the importance of treated wastewater for addressing the issues of sanitation and health in rural areas as well as meeting the demand of scarce water resources for agriculture to improve the livelihoods.    

 Dr Vijay Raghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India said, “The bilateral collaborative projects like this India- European Commission’s Framework Programme 7 (FP7) initiative has benefitted in exchanging the technologies amongst the participating countries as well as developing scientific exchange amongst the scientists for benefitting the common people through technologies such as decentralised wastewater treatment, which has been developed by an Indian consortium led by The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).”

 As part of its 7th Framework Programme, in 2012, the European Commission co-funded 6 Million EUR (approximately 45 Crores INR) for the four-year Water4Crops-EU project covering 21 consortium partners from 8 countries in Europe and in the same year, the Department of Biotechnology of the Government of India funded 3 Million Euros (approximately 22 Crores INR) for a similar twin project (Water4Crops-INDIA) covering 11 research and development partners from India led by ICRISAT.

 “Water4Crops, is a unique bilateral project in the area of wastewater treatment and has successfully strengthened the collaboration between research & development organizations from India and EU institutions, and have also opened various avenues to apply technologies in this sector with shared knowledge across the regions,” said Dr Antonio Lopez, Project Coordinator, Water4Crops, Europe.

 Dr Suhas P Wani, Project Leader and Director, Asia Region, ICRISAT said, “The constructed wetlands technology for treatment of domestic wastewater is finding acceptance amongst the rural people and has a good potential to scale-up in the country to address health and sanitation issues in the rural areas as well as meeting the water demand for agriculture.”

 Indian consortium partners have successfully demonstrated the application of constructed wetland as a decentralised wastewater treatment system for both industrial and municipal wastewater. The brewery of SAB Miller in Sangareddy, Telangana, and the sugar mill of K.C.P. Sugar and Industries Corporation Limited in Lakshmipuram, Andhra Pradesh, have installed constructed wetlands to supplement the existing treatment plants for the effluents from these factories. Similarly, constructed wetlands are also now being used to treat municipal wastewater at multiple locations in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka.

 The results from the Water4Crops project are already finding their way to field application. Based on the results from the pilot sites at ICRISAT headquarters in Hyderabad, India and other locations, the decentralised wastewater treatment approach is being implemented and popularised at 28 sites. A number of watersheds supported by the various corporates under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project, as well as under the Government of Karnataka supported Bhoo Samrudhi programme and the Andhra Pradesh’s Primary Sector Mission (APPSM) Rythu Kosam (supported by the Government of Andhra Pradesh) are already applying these technologies at their pilot sites.

 The constructed wetlands technology holds a very good potential for inclusion in Swachh Bharat Mission to overcome the health hazards as well as ensuring safe disposal of wastewater by gainfully reusing in agriculture.

 As a part of the joint meeting of the Indian and EU partners, an exclusive dissemination session on “Low cost bio-treatment technologies for improving sanitation and water reuse for irrigation in India” was organized by GIZ on 16 June 2016. The dissemination session included eminent panelists deliberating on the key questions of:

  • What is the relevance of the technologies for India?
  • Which existing policies/programmes provide platform for launching these technologies?
  • Applicability/commercial availability of technologies – what is the way forward?
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The panelists in the dissemination session included:

  • Dr. Manoranjan Hota: Additional Director, MoEF&CC
  • Mr. Chandra Bhushan: Deputy Director General, Centre for Science & Environment (CSE)
  • Mr. Siddhartha Das: Policy Manager, WaterAid
  • Mr. Dhruva Kumar Singh: Director, MGNREGA
  • Dr. Priyanie Amerasinghe: Senior Researcher, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  • Mr. Dirk Walther: Director, Sanitation Programme, GIZ-India

Water4Crops addresses the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7 (FP7) Topic ‘Biotechnological Wastewater Treatments and Reuse in Agronomical Systems’ and will be executed as twin projects “Water4Crops-EU” and “Water4Crops-India”.

Water4Crops Project involves multidisciplinary issues of water management. It provides an opportunity to efficiently utilize low quality industrial (food) and municipal wastewater.it facilitates developing various technologies for wastewater treatment and its feasible use in agriculture and describes practical solutions of wastewater treatment and its management which open-up various avenues to scale-up such technologies. The twin projects will address identical objectives by adopting similar methodologies and strategies. The project commenced in the last quarter of 2012 and will end in 2016.

The rationale behind developing Decentralized Wastewater Treatment (DWT) is water scarcity, direct use of wastewater in agriculture is not good for farmers and consumers, disposal of untreated wastewater pollutes environment, and all localities do not have sewage treatment plants. The DWT system addresses number of these problems and water scarcity issues at local scale. 

Indian consortium partners:

  • International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
  • National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)
  • MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)
  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
  • University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad (UASD)
  • University of Agricultural Sciences Bangalore (UASB)
  • Jain Irrigation Systems Limited (JISL)
  • SAB Miller India
  • Ugar Sugar Works
  • KCP Sugar Industries
  • Euro India Research Centre (EIRC)

EU consortium partners:

  • Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna (UNIBO), Bologna, Italy
  • BionActis International Group SA (Bionactis), Valais, Switzerland
  • Consorzio di Bonifica di Secondo Grado per ilCanaleEmilianoRomagnolo (CER), Bologna, Italy
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany
  • Hortasrl (HORTA), Piacenza, Italy
  • INOFEA GmbH, Basel, Switzerland
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France
  • Istituto di Ricerca Sulle Acque – Consiglio Nazionaledelle Ricerche (IRSA-CNR), Dept. of Bari, Italy
  • Natural Environment Research Council, NERC – Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, (NERC-CEH), Wallingford, UK
  • S.T.E.P. Consulting GmbH (STEP), Germany
  • SIMA-tec GmbH, Germany
  • Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (ALTERRA), Wageningen, NL
  • Technical University of Crete (TUC), Crete, Greece
  • TM-solution
  • Unité Mixte de Recherche Gestion Eau Acteurs Usages (GEAU-Cemagref), France
  • Università di Roma “La Sapienza” (UNIRM), Italy
  • University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), Muttenz, CH
  • University of Catania (UNICT) – Department of Agri-food and Environmental Systems Management [GESA], Catania, Italy
  • VITA 34 AG, Leipzig, Germany
  • VITO – Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Brussels, Belgium

More info: http://www.water4crops.org/