Home/ Brand Stories / Ashirvad Water Challenge Contestants address Water Management from Source to Recycling

There are two familiar images that sum up the state of India’s clean drinking water supply: first, of villagers standing in long queues at a public water tap, and second, of an RO water purifier in every urban kitchen. People either do not have a tap connection at home, or if they do, do not trust that they can drink directly from it.

The central government’s Jal Jeevan mission is trying to provide tap connections to every household by 2024, but truly solving the water crisis requires private entrepreneurship. While the government builds infrastructure, maintenance and operations can cost five times more and needs diverse and hyperlocal innovations.

The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) and Ashirvad Pipes announced the Ashirvad Water Challenge in 2022 to create this ecosystem. The water challenge is part of The/Nudge Prize program, which aims to spotlight and support India's leading social entrepreneurs. The competition offers a 2.5 crore prize purse, mentorship, and partners directly with the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India.

As the contest heads towards the finish line with the announcement of 7 finalists, two primary categories of solutions have emerged: Water management solutions that tackle foundational issues with water supply, and deep tech solutions that address new problems created by the new infrastructure, using the power of satellites, AI and machine learning.

In the first of a two-part series, we will cover water management solutions by three companies that have the potential to disrupt the Indian water landscape.

Ossus Biorenewables: Recycling industrial waste water

Ossus Biorenewables has developed a bioenergy solution that uses microbes to treat wastewater and produce hydrogen
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Ossus Biorenewables has developed a bioenergy solution that uses microbes to treat wastewater and produce hydrogen

The industrial sector accounts for 8-10% of India’s water demand, with a recent study projecting a 2% rate of increase every year which outstrips even agriculture. Polluted wastewater from industries also contaminates local sources. In order for the Jal Jeevan mission to succeed, unsustainable industrial water use is a critical problem to solve.

Ossus Biorenewables has developed a bioenergy solution that uses microbes to treat wastewater and produce hydrogen, which can then be used by industries for power production.

“We believe this challenge presents an opportunity to create value out of what is typically considered waste. Our company is committed to supporting water-intensive industries in generating hydrogen on site, using their wastewater as a source, thereby reducing their water requirements. Our goal is to ensure that green hydrogen is produced without compromising the availability of pure water, which is essential for other critical uses."

  • Suruchi Rao, Co-founder, Ossus Biorenewables

BoreCharger by Urdhvam: Replenishing groundwater

The BoreCharger tool makes perforations in the borewell
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The BoreCharger tool makes perforations in the borewell

India is the world’s largest consumer of groundwater. It is the only source of water for most, leading to over-extraction, especially for agriculture, leading to the depletion of deep aquifers that can take hundreds of years to recharge. It has often seemed like an unsolvable problem.

Urdhvam Environmental Technologies Pvt. Ltd. has developed an innovative solution for this called BoreCharger which can recharge failing or dead borewells. The BoreCharger tool makes perforations in the borewell casing from inside and allows large amounts of water from shallow aquifers fed by rainwater to enter the borewell and speed up the recharging process.

Source: BoreCharger.com

“Thanks to the BoreCharger technology, Mr. Nabi, a school teacher and farmer from Humnabad, Bidar District, was able to increase his farm's productivity. His borewell, which used to yield water for only 15 minutes, now runs for 6-7 hours a day, providing ample water for his mango, pulse, and cotton crops. Since implementing the technology in 2019, he has seen an additional profit of 3-3.5 lacs."

- Rahul Bakare, CEO & Founder, Urdhvam Environmental Technologies

OáS Purifiers by Vas Bros. Enterprises: Cheap and sustainable water purification

Vas Bros. Enterprises has developed an Organic Aqua Solutions water purifier, or OáS in short
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Vas Bros. Enterprises has developed an Organic Aqua Solutions water purifier, or OáS in short

Even if industrial water pollution is addressed and sustainable sources of water are found, the need for affordable water purification remains. RO purifiers are common in urban areas, but they waste 75% of the input water and their price is out of reach for rural consumers.

Vas Bros. Enterprises has developed an Organic Aqua Solutions water purifier, or OáS in short. The system uses an affordable, indigenous filtration technology that removes common contaminants as well as Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, etc from water without removing essential minerals or altering the pH value.

“I witnessed the devastating impact of Arsenic contamination in West Bengal's Malda district. In the widow-village of Kaliachak, no male member lived beyond 50 due to Arsenic poisoning from drinking water. I met and became friends with someone and watched him suffer and die slowly from Arsenicosis and skin cancer. Realising the alarming rate at which Arsenic contamination was spreading, I became determined to make Arsenic mitigation and clean water solutions my life mission."

  • Saket Kumar, Founder, Vas Bros. Enterprises

As the Ashirvad Water Challenge heads into the final round, contestants must prove that their business model can scale up enough to make a difference at the population level.

According to Kanishka Chatterjee, head of The/Nudge Prize, the real goal of the competition is to incentivize true innovators to tackle India’s water problem at the grassroots level, instead of solving problems for wealthier consumers. “Once the engine starts, market forces will keep it going", says Chatterjee.

With the combined power of social entrepreneurship and government focus, The/Nudge and Ashirvad Pipes are hopeful that all of India will one day soon turn on a tap in their homes, and drink directly without fear.

Disclaimer: This article is a promotional feature and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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Updated: 28 Mar 2023, 11:49 AM IST
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