Joint India-UK water quality research venture takes shape

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Joint India-UK water quality research programme
Water reservoir in Jaipur, Rajasthan state, India Image: siraanamwong/Adobestock

A joint programme of eight new water research projects between India and the UK has been launched in New Delhi this month by UK Science Minister Jo Johnson and Indian Minister of State for Science and Technology, Shri Y S Chowdary. The India-UK Water Quality programme aims to support policymakers, water managers, business and local communities to improve India’s water quality.

The development follows the announcement in November 2016 of an India-UK Strategic Partnership by both the UK and Indian Prime Ministers.

Announcing the new research partnership on 1 November 2017, Mr Chowdary said: “India is exponentially growing its science capability and using science and technology to transform society. Our collaboration with the UK shows how partnerships of the highest quality can help both countries advance, as well as have a global positive impact for sustainable development.”

Daniel Shah, Director of Research Councils UK India, said: “India is the fastest growing major research power and the UK is the highest quality major research power. We have a true partnership delivering excellent, high impact research across disciplines and innovation connecting academics and businesses. Together our collaboration helps us both better understand, and make better, the world in which we live.”

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive Designate of UK Research and Innovation added: “These new collaborative projects will strengthen bonds between our research communities and deepen our collective understanding across a range of fields: from energy and water to medicine and physics.”

Reducing fluoride in groundwater

One of the joint projects, led by Dr Alison Parker from Cranfield University and Dr Anupma Sharma from the National Institute of Hydrology in Roorkee, India, is to research the impact of rainwater harvesting in India on groundwater quality. Both institutions are leaders in the field of water research in their respective countries.

Dr Parker explained: “Groundwater is still the main source of fresh water in many parts of the world. This includes Rajasthan in Western India where rainwater harvesting is being used to replenish groundwater and provide a safe, reliable water supply.”

Using fieldwork, laboratory testing and modelling simulations, the researchers’ findings will be used to generate recommendations on how rainwater harvesting can be used to reduce fluoride contamination of groundwater.

Dr Sharma said: “We hope our research and recommendations will lead to policymakers, water managers, business and local communities making informed, evidence-based decisions that can generate a safer water supply for all.”