Guwahati: The Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IIT-G) has established the ‘Chair of Jal Jeevan Mission’ for Water Treatment Technology and appointed Prof Mihir Kumar Purkait from the institute’s department of chemical engineering as its first occupant.

“Prof Purkait has a portfolio of diverse innovations and developments in basic and applied research. He 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,” a statement from IIT-G issued on Thursday said.

He has the credit for industrialising 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 Professor Chair will be for five years.

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2019, Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) aims to enable every rural household to have a functional household tap connection (FHTC) by 2024.

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 (open defecation free) Plus’ in rural India.

The plan is to have five JJM Professor Chairs in institutions of repute such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management besides social sciences academic-cum-research institutions and national institutions.

Highlighting IIT Guwahati’s track record on water-related research and its capabilities, IIT-G director T.G. Sitharam said the supply of contaminant-free drinking water to rural areas has been a priority for central and 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 glad that NJJM has established a Professor Chair on water treatment technology at IIT Guwahati,” he said.

The JJM-Professor Chair will coordinate 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, educational activity, and research in-focus areas of the institute.

Explaining the scope of NJJM Professor Chairs on water treatment technology, Prof Purkait, said the initiatives taken by NJJM would bridge the gap between academic institutions like IIT Guwahati and the state and district sanitation missions of the state and or central government.

“My expertise gained since the past 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,” he said.

The Chair will also be responsible for conducting high-quality empirical and applied research in the rural drinking water sector 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 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 PhD programme and related course work in the focus area.

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.

IIT Guwahati’s technology will assist the government in providing contaminant-free drinking water to the people to fulfil the 6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-6).

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  1. The objective is to address sectoral challenges and facilitate the achievement of ‘Har Ghar Jal’ and ‘ODF (open defecation free) Plus’ in rural India.

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