An Israel NewTech delegation returned from India, where the cooperation towards the cleanup of the polluted Ganges River was advanced. An interview with Oded Distel.
“We have been working closely with the Indian government for some time, but there is a very strong sense that now things are moving into high gear with the Ganges rejuvenation project,” says Oded Distel, Head of Israel NewTech. Cleaning up the Ganges River is a task of gargantuan proportions, and India’s relatively newly established Prime Minister Narendra Modi has placed it in very high priority. Distel just returned from a delegation visit to India, which he attended together with Israeli water experts such as Professor Yoram Oren, a world renowned expert in membrane technology. The delegation met with a number of industrial and academic associations in India.
Israel’s water industry has much to gain from Israel’s involvement in the Ganges cleanup initiative. There are dozens of Israeli companies active in wastewater reclamation and other technologies who would have a lot to offer in the framework of the project.
Distel told us about some concrete steps Israel NewTech has undertaken to advance the project: “We, together with Yoni Benzaken and the team at the New Delhi Economic Mission and a consulting company, put together a thorough report on the source of the pollution of the Ganges.” (click here to view the full report). According to Distel, the first step to cleaning the River is to stop the flow of toxins into it by factories. “We discovered that the ‘leading’ polluters are paper mills, chemical companies and tanneries. In this visit we toured a number of tanneries, to better understand their processes and needs, and to see how Israeli technologies could play a role in minimizing the pollution they produce and pour into the Ganges.”
The current government in India places heavy emphasis on the project, and has established the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, the heads of which met with the Israeli delegation. But challenges still lay ahead. According to Distel, there are laws in place in India prohibiting pollution of the Ganges by factories, but there is an issue with enforcement.
An agreement between India and Israel is set to be signed, putting in place milestones for cooperation on the project. These include an Indian water industry delegation to Israel next month, and an Indian delegation to the upcoming WATEC event in October.
“The relationship between Israel and India in the water sector is very strong, both at the government and industry levels,” concludes Oded Distel. “The Ganges cleanup project has been years in the making and we’ve been there every step of the way. I believe its execution is right around the corner, and when it happens it will mean very big news – and business – for a large number of Israeli water companies.”
Israel companies which offer technologies relevant to the Ganges rejuvenation project are invited to contact the Israeli Economic Mission in New Delhi.