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The Ganges, arguably the lifeline of India, has its origin in the Himalayas. Once it crosses Gangotri, it flows through Haridwar collecting industrial, agricultural and human waste on its way. Before it culminates in the Bay of Bengal, it passes through various towns and villages lacking sanitation. The Government of India is rolling up its sleeves to clean the 2525 KM long-Ganga and facilitate its flow as it is the source of water for more than 40 per cent of India’s population.

What is the IET?

A non-profit engineering organisation founded 145 years ago, the IET is one of the world’s leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community. The IET has more than 167,000 members across 150 countries. In India, the IET has over 13,000 members, eight Local Networks and focuses on Energy, Transport, Information & Communications, IoT and Education sectors.

How’s the IET involved in cleaning the Ganges?

In March, a panel formed by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on IoT (Internet of Things) were invited to consult the Government of India’s National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) to discuss the ways to clean the river. According to IET, the leaders discussed and tried to identify ways to improve the water flow in Ganga, better treatment of pollutants via sewage and effluent treatment plants, need for controlling unregulated sewage, open defecation etc., and handling chemical runoff from agricultural lands (fertilisers and pesticides).

How is the IoT solution going to be implemented?

According to Vivek Mehrotra, Chairman of Ganga Rejuvenation team, IoT solution could be used in providing real-time information of pollution status and enabling the industries and societies to find alternate means of disposal of waste. In late September, IET has reportedly created a blueprint to implement a scalable IoT solution to prevent pollution and improve the flow of the river. Using IoT, data would be collected and analysed before being shared with the local authorities and universities who can then devise an appropriate course of action.

Other technologies being used to clean up the river

Unmanned robotic water surface vehicle with drones: The vehicle can be programmed to collect all the pollutant waste through its arms and offload the same. It works 24X7 and under all weather conditions. More, it can actually submerge to clean up pollutants on even the riverbed. A set of drones is used with it to collect videos of the pollutants.

Gumps- Detectors for pipeline leaks: The Guided Ultrasonic Monitoring of Pipe Systems (GUMPS) can detect oil leakages from oil pipelines that are laid across the river bed of the Ganga River. They continuously monitor pipelines and alert any impending leaks, thus preventing loss of marine life and pollution due to oil leakages.

What’s the big picture?

The IET-IoT panel was formed way back in early 2015 and it has taken two years for it to come up with a blueprint. Meanwhile, the river is continuing to gather a billion gallons of waste each day. The massive undertaking is being shared by a few startups who are coming up with innovative technologies to clean the river and the IoT panel. It will be interesting to see who will tread the holy grail of a clean Ganges.

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