Danish Environmental Protection Agency in India
The Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) on Water between the Danish Environmental Protection Agency and Indian water authorities brings Danish regulatory approaches and sustainable water resource and supply technologies in play for supporting the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), which has the ambitious purpose of securing tab water to all rural houses in India by 2024 at the latest.
In addition, the cooperation supports the efforts of the Royal Danish Embassy in New Delhi for clearing the way for Danish industries on the indian market, as mentioned in the Danish Water Export Strategy, and for strengthening bilateral relations.
Indian environmental challenges
India has 18% of the worlds population but only 4% of the world's water ressources. In 2019 India was number 120 out of 122 countries with regards to water quality and 80% of the surface waters are polluted. It is estimated, that India looses approximately USD 600 million yearly due to water bourne deceases, and urban non revenue water is above the world average (sources: World Bank, Unicef, WaterAid and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India).
India is amongst the fastest growing economies in the world, with the World Bank assessing a growth rate of 7,2% for the financial year (FY) 2022/23 and a prediction of 6,3% in FY 2023/24. Significant public investments happens - and will continue to happen - in the years to come, not the least in a water sector suffering from a substantial backlog.
The Strategic Sector Partnership on Water
The SSC on Water is a part of the Green Strategic Partnership (GSP), agreed between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Mette Frederiksen September 20th 2020, and reconfirmed during the Danish Prime Ministers visit to Indian October 2021.
The SSC agreement covers the four year period of 2021-2024, with a possibility for extension for two additional phases, each of three years.
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency is the main Danish partner, supported by the Royal Danish Embassy in New Delhi, Innovation Centre Denmark (ICDK) in Bangalore, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Department of Geophysics of Aarhus University, and the 3VAND association of the water utilities of Aarhus, Odense and Copenhagen.
The main Indian partner is the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the national Ministry of Jal Shakti, who is responsible for implementation of the JJM. A number of pilot activities takes place in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, in close cooperation with the Tamil Nadu Water Resources Department (TNWRD) and the Tamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD board).
In addition the SSC coordinates closely with the city-to-city partnership between Aarhus Municipality and the city of Udaipur in the Indian state of Rajestan.
The activities of the programme are arranged in 7 thematic tracks:
- Source Identification and Protection
- Policy and Planning
- Water Challenge
- Training and Study trips
- Sharing and Upscaling
The Distribution track cover a number of activities on e.g. capacity building and small demonstration projects on non revenue water, water meters, energy efficiency and digitalization etc. 3VAND is the manager of this track, and is also responsible for setting the team of the right experts for on-the-ground work based on Danish water management practices. TWAD board is the main Indian partner in this track.
The Source Identification and Protection track cover practical demonstration of and training in relevant geophysical mapping methods like tTEM and walkTEM/sTEM, chemical groundwater monitoring and modelling, and hydrogeological modelling with the purpose of resource estimation and identifying areas for managed groundwater recharge and prevention of salt water intrusion. GEUS is the manager of this track, and Department of Geophysics of Aarhus University provides expertise on geophysics. TNWRD is the main Indian partner in this track.
The Policy and Planning track covers support to regulatory aspects of sustainable water supply. In 2023 the Danish Environmental Protection Agency provided recommendations to a forthcoming Water Act of Tamil Nadu.
Awareness forms an important part of sustainable water supply management in both India and Denmark, and will form a small but important part of the SSC Work Plan.
Another smaller but still important track in the work plan is support in 2022 and 2023 of a ‘competition’ (Water Challenge), where Indian teams of students and young entrepreneurs competed with teams from other countries in finding innovative answers on a number of predefined ‘problem statements’. The activity is part of a larger initiative, led by the Technical University of Denmark, called Next Generation Water Action. The 2022 activities culminated at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen. The 2023 activities culminated at the UIA World Congress of Architects, also in Copenhagen. The work is led by Innovation Center Denmark (ICDK), placed in Bangalore, together with Indian partners.
The Training and Study Trips track covers a wast variety of activities, including the embedded training component, which is always part of testing Danish technologies and approaches in water distribution and groundwater mapping, as well as participating in Danish Fellowship Center (DFC) cources, and study trips to Denmark. In August-September 2023 , high-level representatives from the Ministry of Jal Shakti and eight Indian states visited Denmark, meeting multiple stakeholders and learning more of the Danish approach to Sustainable Water Supply Management.
In the Sharing and Upscaling track, findings from the more technical tracks are shared to the rest of India. In 2023 the first two webinars on different areas within Water Distribution marked the successful initiation of activities in this Track
Philip Grinder Pedersen