The United Nations observes World Water Day, on March 22 every year, to focus attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. UN, Sustainable Development Goal 6, commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets for protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home- affecting their health, education, and livelihoods.
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, under the leadership of the Chancellor Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), has long focused on water resource issues. On 2018’s World Water Day, here are some of the initiatives taken in this direction.
- Providing Clean Water: The Jivamritam project was designed to provide Water Purification System in 5000 villages using nano filters, design, and development of sensors for detecting water contamination. The Chancellor presented to the Indian Government, a cheque for Rs. 100 Crore (US$15 million) for the construction of toilets in the poorest villages surrounding the Ganga River, as part of Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) and Namami Gange (Clean Ganges) projects in 2015. The Chancellor added to her Rs. 100-crore donation to the Namami Gange campaign by making a pledge that the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) will dedicate a value of Rs. 100-crore in toilet construction and other sanitation efforts in Kerala in the year 2015. A project titled, SMART WATER, a novel technique to test the water quality of lakes and ponds. won Cisco’s first-ever “Great Digital India Challenge – iDeate”, an event that focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) based on ideation challenge for India. The first prize for the project included Rs. 2,50, 000 and was awarded to a B.Tech. student of Amrita School of Engineering.
- Scalable Water Conservation: Faculty members, staff, and students from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham worked with members of Amrita Self Reliant Villages (ASeRVe) and traveled to villages in Rajasthan, Odisha, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh to build water distribution systems for more effective water use and management. 5 families of Harirampur village in Rajasthan; 62 families of Guptapada, Odisha; 90 families of Komalikudi of Kerala and 200 families of Gudipadu Cheruvu, a village located in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh and Dunda in Uttarakhand, are now able to receive water through an underground pipeline system in front of their houses.
- Efficient Waste Water Management: Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham joined a league of six Indian innovators who contributed to an ambitious health project titled ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge: India’ — a collaborative effort of the US-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under Ministry of Science and Technology, along with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) which is a Government of India Enterprise, to facilitate the availability of decontaminated water and improve the conditions of sanitation in India. Amrita’s Coimbatore campus, located on 400 acres, in an arid area, runs five sewage treatment plants round-the-clock. Together, they process 12 lakhs liters a day. The plants use no chemicals in the treatment process.
- Towards Sustainable Agriculture: Researchers at Amrita have devised a wireless sensor network system for the efficient management of water for irrigating the chili plant in Gudipadu Cheruvu, Andhra Pradesh. The IoT based framework was designed to help farmers effectively monitor a chosen crop and schedule various activities such as irrigation and fertilization based on the current environmental conditions. The system gathers information related to the parameters to be monitored and instructs farmers, through an app, about the irrigation and fertilization requirements according to the chosen crop. This has increased efficiency in terms of water use and crop cultivation.
- Building Community Resilience: Women have been trained in villages to construct toilets and ensure health and sanitation, as a part of the skill development program at Amrita. Amrita implemented a plan to provide electricity to the village from available hydro resources. Faculty members, staff, and students designed, developed, and installed a distribution and transmission network which included a check dam, a network of pipes, a 5KW micro-hydro generator, an underground transmission line, and a powerhouse. The project ensured 24/7 electricity to 8 homes, 2 street lights, the multi-grade learning center, the village’s Anganwadi (pre-school), and the youth center. Furthermore, each home has 4 connection points with 3 lighting points and a plug point. Villagers currently use energy efficient 7 watt LED bulbs for energy conservation.
- Timely Water Hazard Mitigation: Amrita has been proactive in responding to floods in Mumbai (2005), Bihar (2008), Karnataka (2009) and Chennai (2015).
- Ensuring Water Availability: Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has designed projects for rainwater harvesting, bore well digging, and ensuring availability of less polluted water (arsenic, pesticides, etc.).
- Improving Water Accessibility: Amrita established water distribution systems in Rajasthan, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, and Uttarakhand.