Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati has established the ‘Chair of Jal Jeevan Mission for Water Treatment Technology. The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) was launched by Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister on 15th August 2019 from the ramparts of the Red Fort. It aims to enable every rural household to have a Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC) by 2024.
The Institute has appointed Prof. Mihir Kumar Purkait, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Guwahati as the first occupant of this Chair. The tenure of the Professor Chair will be five years.
Prof. Mihir Kumar Purkait has a portfolio of diverse innovations and developments in basic and applied research. He has the credit for industrializing various technologies for up and downstream operation of water and wastewater treatment technologies, waste to wealth generation, separation of value-added product from a plant source, and electrochemical reduction of CO2 to various products.
The National Jal Jeevan Mission (NJJM), Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India, is responsible for, inter alia, implementation of Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) across the country, providing policy guidance, and building partnerships with State Governments to achieve the goals of JJM.
The Jal Jeevan Mission – Professor Chairs are established by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, National Jal Jeevan mission (NJJM), New Delhi in reputed academic institutions to carry out high-quality empirical and applied research in the rural drinking water and sanitation sector. The objective is to address sectoral challenges and facilitate the achievement of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ and ‘ODF Plus’ in rural India.
It is intended to establish five Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM)-Professor Chairs in Institutions of repute such as Indian Institutes of Technology/ Indian Institutes of Management/ social sciences academic-cum-research institutions and national institutions having research experience relevant to the needs of the water and sanitation sector.
Highlighting IIT Guwahati’s track record on water-related research and its capabilities, Prof. T.G. Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati, said, “The supply of contaminant-free drinking water to rural areas is a priority for Central and all State Governments, including Assam. The technology adopted here might be useful to the citizens both in rural and urban areas for getting contaminant-free drinking water. I am very glad that NJJM has established a Professor Chair on water treatment technology at IIT Guwahati.”
The JJM-Professor Chair will work in coordination with the State Water and Sanitation/ Rural Water Supply/ PHE Departments and the State and District Water and Sanitation Missions. It will focus on capacity building and maintaining a balance among capacity building, outreach, academic program, and educational activity, and research in-focus areas of the institute.
Explaining the scope of NJJM Professor Chairs on water treatment technology, Prof. Mihir Kumar Purkait, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Guwahati, said, “The Initiatives taken by NJJM will definitely bridge the gap between academic institutions like IIT Guwahati with the State Water and Sanitation, JJM, Rural Water Supply, PHED, PNRD, and the State and District Water and Sanitation Missions of state and or central government. My expertise gained since last 22 years on the fundamental and applied research on water treatment technologies will be useful to the concerned government authorities to make a strategy for implementing more efficient, economical and sustainable technology beneficial to the society.”
The Chair will also be responsible for conducting high-quality empirical and applied research in the rural drinking water sector that is aligned to the objectives and priorities of Jal Jeevan Mission.
The Chair will serve in an advisory capacity to NJJM in matters of policy or technology and will function as a think-tank in the selected focus area, in particular, and the rural water supply sector in general. The Chair will also conduct a Ph.D. programme and related course work in the selected focus area.
Prof. Mihir Kumar Purkait has developed and demonstrated several prototypes to provide iron, arsenic, fluoride, and other contaminants-free drinking water to the rural people of Assam with the help of his patented innovative water treatment technologies.
Arsenic and fluoride contamination in drinking water is a foremost and growing concern among rural people not only in Assam but also in major parts of the country and IIT Guwahati’s technology will succour and assist the Government of India in providing contaminant-free drinking water to the people to fulfill the 6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-6).
Prof Mihir Kumar Purkait has developed various water treatment technologies based on membrane technology, nanotechnology, adsorption, electrocoagulation/coagulation followed by flocculation-sedimentation-filtration for the treatment of contaminated drinking water and industrial wastewater as well. He has also developed and installed many water treatment plants in temples and schools and rural villages where pipe water supply is not available as a project deliverable funded by DST, DRDO, DBT, and Govt. of Assam.