Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over water sharing from Cauvery River for many decades. With reservoir levels dipping because of reduced flow from catchment areas the tension is expected to prevail and may even escalate in the coming years. While improving catchment area management is vital, it’s also important to explore if water is not wasted due to poor water supply management. Mandya wastes one third and Bengaluru, nearly half of Cauvery water. Bosch, IBM & IISc are working on solutions to help Mandya save Cauvery water with Smart Grids
By Benedict Paramanand
Mandya has been the hotbed of tension because the decision of water sharing between the two states affects this district the most. The big question which the Karnataka government and the local farmers need to answer is – can they significantly cut down water consumption without affecting productivity? Should they explore a better mix of crops which could offer higher income to farmers and reduce water guzzling sugarcane and paddy?
That’s where Robert Bosch comes in. Bosch has been working on understanding the consumption pattern in the Cauvery belt, especially in Mandy since 2014. It has developed a new technology based on electrolysis for purifying ground water in the same region. R K Shenoy, Senior VP, Robert Bosch Engineering & Business Solutions Private Limited, says this “niche technology is at commercialization stage. Our objective is to work towards providing water to the consumers at an affordable price point and also enhance access to water to a wider base of consumers.”
The groundwater in the Mandya-Mysore region is said to be contaminated with lead and arsenic. Bosch’s nano-tech based purification technology is able to address this problem, he says. Bosch is also working on developing many technologies which has larger impact with several academic institutions especially the prestigious Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.
Heavy water leakage from canals that carry Cauvery River, which flows about 40 kilometers along the historic town of Srirangapatna, is a big problem. Estimates suggest that 89 MLD (million liters a day) of water pumped from river Cauvery to Mandya city, about 29 MLD is lost due to leakages. To address this issue, The Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems (RBCCPS) at IISC is collaborating with IBM Bangalore to develop an instrument to automatically identify and localize leaks. This instrument will collect data of key hydraulics and water quality parameters.
This project started in 2014 and completes this year. Mandya could soon have cyber physical solutions for its water woes. This project is expected to be a test bed for research in ‘Smart Water Grids, a prominent subset of the ‘Smart City’ concept.
Bengaluru is even worse. Its water board chairman T M Vijay Bhaskar said in August 2016 that out of the 1,400 MLD of Cauvery water pumped to the city, 600 MLD goes waste. The irony is, when the city is wasting this much water, a new project, Cauvery Fourth Phase, for 400 MLD is being planned. The global water waste ranges between 8% and 10% while India’s was 15% overall.
The Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber Physical Systems (RBCCPS) at IISC is an inter-disciplinary research and academic center focused on unearthing new knowledge in the science and engineering of cyber physical systems, via high impact research. It runs an interdisciplinary PhD program, supports masters’ projects and offers courses in the domain of cyber physical systems. In addition, the center extends partial funding support to large collaborative, expedition style, research projects aimed at solving problems of great societal interest. The center also promotes collaboration between IISc faculties and other universities and companies. It was established in 2011 and is supported by a philanthropic grant by the Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions.
Shenoy says ‘sustainability’ at Bosch is part of its DNA and it doesn’t need to make special efforts. Bosch’s funds to IISC, at Rs. 11 crore a year, goes towards designing new technologies for fighting problems in healthcare, energy and water. The new excitement is because scientists are now able to apply the internet of things (IOT) and cloud technologies to solve problems.
Apart from smart water grids, Robert Bosch India (RBEI) is ready with a new ‘Micro Climate Monitoring System’ for better air quality management in Indian cities. It has installed a few outside its office in Bangalore. This technology also doubles up as vehicle tracking devices which can help in better air quality management.
Academia – Lab collaboration
RBEI works with more than 20 academic institutions in India currently to bridge the huge gap between academia and industry. Shenoy says that “Earlier we were involved only in designing curriculum, now, we are getting into the innovation part – working on concepts on how research can be done in the field.” For example, RBEI is currently working with NIT Suratkal on designing new energy solutions.
RBEI has begun to install tools in the labs to conduct training to improve power tools, embedded systems and industrial automation. Skill development at vocational centers is another focus area. It does around 250 skill-training each year. Improving automotive electronics is its new focus area.
RBEI is now working with other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and even competitors to target markets at price point that are affordable. It offers its labs for testing with the objective that “India can have end-to-end development and manufacturing capability of auto products.” RBEI’s futuristic projects are on technologies for full electric and hybrid vehicles. It is working on making two-wheelers safer.
RBEI is the backbone of Robert Bosch global for engineering and IT. More than 80 percent of the work done by 18,000 employees is for global projects. Robert Bosch has eight entities in India and RBI is one of them.
Robert Bosch has caught on to the start-up wave to drive its future. It recently launched the Start Up Connect. It aims to mentor ten start-ups shortly. “We start with mentoring, and if we find them interesting, engage more to take it forward. Incubation, mentoring and look at eventually invest in a staged manner.”
Globally Bosch has a venture capital which is currently active in China. It plans to focus on India next year. While Robert Bosch Venture Capital focuses on outside start ups with minority investment/stake, it has launched an internal start-up engine to encourage new products in-house with a start-up mindset.