Health Minister Vardhan launches DST Innovation Centre to enhance water & food security

New Delhi: Union Minister for Science, Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Harsh Vardhan launched a Water Innovation Centre for enhancing Food and Water security in Arid Regions, set up by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, nucleated at Indian Council of Agricultural (ICAR)-Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhpur. This centre, established at a collective investment of around Rs 6 crore, has the mission of providing state-of-the-art, research-led innovative technological solutions for enhancing food and water security, which is a major challenge for arid regions.

The ‘DST-ICAR-CAZRI Water Innovation Centre for Enhancing Food and Water Security in Arid Regions through Improved Understanding of Quantity, Quality and Management of Blue, Green and Grey Water’ is a network of 6 research institutions.

Harsh Vardhan emphasised that the development and application of advanced tools and techniques by leading Indian institutions for water and agriculture is of the utmost importance to address critical problems of Indian society, saying that the current endeavours are few such steps in this direction.

The Minister added that water is a crucial input for agriculture that is depleting every day due to the ever increasing demands of industrial and household sectors, and therefore judicious use of available water is of paramount importance.

Looking at the importance and availability of water, and the daily increasing demand for irrigation purposes, efforts need to be made to switch over to micro irrigation practices which help save (40-50%) water and increase cropping intensity, irrigated area and crop yield, said Vardhan.

Huge scope exists in improving the water productivity in agriculture i.e. “More crop per drop of water,” said Vardhan, adding that this Centre will significantly contribute to facilitate the development of an appropriate institutional framework to address the challenge of water management.

Another prerequisite is that proper policy, laws and regulations should be in place to guide the water manager, the Minister said, stressing on inter-sectoral coordination to utilize the available water resources to the best advantage.

Vardhan also dedicated a micro industrial complex for sustainable rural industrialization. This micro industrial complex utilizes locally available biomass to produce 150 kW of power besides providing 50 tons of refrigeration capacity and 2,000 litres per hour distilled water, and also utilizes low grade steam to expel oil from castor seeds. The castor oil cake residues are used as boiler fuel.

This innovative configuration has a payback period of 2 to 3 years and utilizes locally available materials for meeting the energy, cooling, and water needs, besides providing castor oil which has a large number of applications, said a DST Press communication.

Speaking on the occasion, Harsh Vardhan said these kinds of applications of science and technology can have a significant economic, social and environmental impact on rural areas.

Vardhan hailed the concept of Water Innovation Centres and application of technologies for providing food and water security, and highlighted the need for inter-Ministerial cooperation for providing technological inputs to Indian agriculture and water systems.

Harsh Vardhan urged Scientists and technocrats to aspire to achieve breakthroughs through research and social interventions in the areas of water management and agriculture which could position India at the frontiers with the most efficient water footprints.

This information was provided by the Communications Team at the Dept. of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.

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The ID Staff

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