Wetskills water challenge in Delhi

Nov. 7, 2019
Delhi, India

The Barapullah drain system in Delhi discharges daily around 1.6 million litres of waste water into the Yamuna river. The drain transformed over time from a natural stream to an open sewer with poor water quality and solid waste littering, posing a threat to the natural environment and people’s wellbeing. Water treatment is possible but is not effective without addressing the multiple aspects of the source of the problem and an integrated sustainable water management approach.

Citizens’ involvement at the Barapullah Drain

Heleen Van Boxelaere from H+N+S participated in the Wetskills Delhi workshop and embedded a designers’ viewpoint to the teamwork. Together the team looked at citizens’ involvement and focused on informing people about their role in the problem and stimulating them to become part of the solution by using clean (treated) water from the LOTUS HR -project as an incentive for change. LOTUS HR is a joint collaboration between India and the Netherlands and researches opportunities for local treatment of urban sewage and healthy reuse of the treated water.


The team came up with a twofold approach of simple and workable solutions. One idea suggests using the Rickshaws of Delhi to aware travelling people by adding a waste bin and information sign to the frame of the tricyle. In return for collecting waste, the Rickshaw drivers are offered a free carwash at the LotusHR lab downstream. The other idea suggests a ‘Drainwash competition’ addressing residential welfare associations to stimulate the cleanup and appropriation of a local embankment of the Barapullah by the community. Again, this initiative is stimulated with a reward of clean, treated (drinking) water as an incentive for action. Although more effort and means are needed to provide an overall solution, the proposal offers a new point of view on the situation and an opening to start making a change.

The event was organised by Wetskills Foundation, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt of India through Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), A Government of India Enterprise and is supported by case owners RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) and The Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Delhi.

News item in H2O: “Twee Wetskills Water Challenges tijdens bezoek koningspaar aan India”

More information about Wetskills and the LOTUSHR-project .

During Wetskills Delhi, four teams worked on ideas to expand and transform the existing research lab of LOTUSHR into an integrated and multi-purpose ‘Wetlab’ from the perspective of citizens’ involvement, experience, entrepreneurship and test site for (non-)technological solutions. The event ran parallel to the Dutch royal state visit to India. Ideas of the teams were presented to the king and queen during a ‘meet and greet’ at the Barapullah and pitched during the India-NL Technology Summit in New Delhi.