The Rural Development Centre, Indian Institute of Technology organised the Rural Drinking Water Technology Hackathon. The Hackathon was organised with the objective to explore cost-effective and innovate solutions to address the problems and challenges related to the availability of drinking water in rural India. The event was sponsored by the Design Innovation Centre at IIT Kharagpur which was recently set up by the government of India under its 'National Initiative for Design Innovation.'
Around 30 teams from various premium colleges across the country had submitted the applications for the event, out of which 13 were shortlisted by the Jury. The entries made were judged by a team of experts from the University of Edinburgh in association with IIT KGP. Kate Heal, Professor at Edinburg said that 'I was greatly impressed by the diversity of ideas –from phytoremediation, solutions of rainwater harvesting, to the number of filtration systems. Some of the contestants had also thought about issues like the economy and access to water.' Prof. Neil Robertson, whose team has been working on Photocatalysts was also present for the event.
Rural Drinking Water Technology Hackathon Winners
The Hackathon showcased various easy-to-implement and cost-effective technologies for water purification making use of locally available materials like rice husk, biochar, sawdust, iron nails, gravel, the ubiquitous ‘matka’ or clay water pot. The first prize at the Rural Drinking Water Technology Hackathon was won by a team of postgraduate and research level students from the School of Water Resources, Jadavpur University (Debdas Chowdhury, Saurabh Kumar Basak and Priyabrata Mandal). The proposed use of rusted nails to ensure the absorption of arsenic at a minimal cost of INR 2000 per household. Also, the showed the use of dual media filter for the removal of arsenic and fluoride from water.
The second prize was bagged by Usha Kumari, a chemical engineering student at IIT Kharagpur. She had devised a way to remove the arsenic and fluoride elements from drinking water with the use of alumina activated by sulphuric acid. And lastly, the third prize was jointly lifted by a team from NIT Warangal and IIEST, Shibpur. NIT Warangal's team advocated how the plants can be used for phytoremediation and the IIEST Shibpur team showcased how electrocoagulation can be used to remove arsenic from water.
Prof. Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, Deputy Director, IIT Kharagpur handed out the prizes to the winners. And while handing out the prizes, she also reminded all the teams that were present that besides suggesting newer technologies and methods that were simple and economically viable to provide access to clean drinking water in rural areas, candidates had to also make sure that the removed pollutants cannot go back to the water supply.
The winning technologies from the Rural Drinking Water Technology Hackathon were discussed at a workshop on ‘Rural Water Quality and Management’ that is being held from May 14, 2019, to May 16, 2019, at IIT Kharagpur, held jointly with the University of Edinburgh. The projects of the winning teams will be funded by DIC and the students can work in association with IIT KGP to future develop and enhance their ideas. The winners were also awarded cash rewards amounting to INR 60,000.