Building Water-Resilient Cities

Strategies for Wastewater Reuse in Urban India

17 October 2023, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Infosys Science Foundation, Bengaluru


Indian cities are facing significant challenges in meeting their escalating water demands due to their growing populations.

Take the case of Bengaluru. Even though more and more water is being pumped to the city from the Cauvery river, nearly 50% of its population is still dependent on groundwater, whose levels are declining steeply.

Of the 1,970 million litres per day of wastewater that Bengaluru generates daily, it treats two-thirds in centralised sewage treatment plants and about 12% in decentralised sewage treatment plants. Despite this quantum of treated wastewater, several barriers prevent the formation of a thriving wastewater reuse sector. As a result, most of this water ends up in the city’s lakes, where it mixes with untreated septage and raw sewage, rendering it unusable.

At the same time, Bengaluru and other cities are experiencing flooding due to unplanned urbanisation and climate change impacts. As India’s urban regions continue to expand, we need to plan and build better to prevent and mitigate the impacts of flooding while ensuring that urban populations are able to meet their water needs and water sources are not overexploited.

About the Conference

In light of these issues, Water, Environment, Land and Livelihoods (WELL) Labs is organising a conference on Building Water-Resilient Cities: Strategies for Wastewater Reuse in India in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology and Bangalore Apartments’ Federation. The conference will be held at the Infosys Science Foundation at Jayanagar.

We seek to bring together diverse stakeholders in the domain of water management and urban planning to facilitate cross-learning, effectively diagnose problems and transform systems. 



10:30 – 10:45 am Welcome address by Shri BP Ravi, IFS, Principal Secretary, Ecology and Environment, Government of Karnataka
10:45 – 11:00 am Report launch and overview of Bengaluru’s water balance by Dr Veena Srinivasan
11:00 – 11:03 am Virtual address by Mr Vishwanath S
11:03 am – 12:00 pm

Panel Discussion: Planning and Implementing Effective Wastewater Management

Panellists: Mr Eli Cohen, Dr DN Ravi Shankar, Shri Prasanta Mohapatra, Mr Vikram Rai, Prof. V Srinivas Chary (joining virtually)
Moderated by Dr Veena Srinivasan

12:00 – 12:15 pm Keynote address by Dr Christian Binz
12:15 – 1:15 pm

Panel Discussion: Emerging Markets for Wastewater Reuse in Urban India

Panellists: Dr Ananth Kodavasal, Mr Satish Mallya, Mr Suhail Rahman 
Moderated by Ms Meera K

1:15 – 1:18 pm Virtual address by Mr V Ramprasad
1:18 – 2:20 pm Lunch
2:20 – 2:23 pm Virtual address by Dr Mohan Kumar
2:23 – 3:30 pm

Panel Discussion: Wastewater Standards and Regulation

Panellists: Mr Aditya Rao, Dr Inayathulla M, Mr M Selvarasu, Shri Mahesh T, Dr Shubha Avinash
Moderated by Ms Shreya Nath

3:30 – 4:30 pm

Panel Discussion: Wastewater Markets and Business Models

Panellists: Mr Gowthaman Desingh, Ms Moulya Donthi, Mr Vijay Kumar N  
Moderated by Dr Christian Binz
and Dr Johan Miörner

4:30 – 5:00 pm High Tea

Detailed Agenda

Welcome Address

The event will commence with a welcome address by Shri B.P. Ravi, Principal Secretary, Forests and Ecology, Government of Karnataka.

Overview of Bengaluru’s water balance

Next, Dr Veena Srinivasan, Executive Director of WELL Labs, will release a report on Bengaluru’s water balance and talk about quantifying the city’s water flows as a first step towards answering several conceptual questions on urban water management.

Panel Discussion: Planning and Implementing Effective Water Management

Implementing an effective integrated urban water plan is rife with challenges. But there are cases, both within and outside India, that show possible ways forward. This session would delve into the factors involved in planning and implementing an effective wastewater management plan — the drivers, the challenges and what it takes to make such projects sustainable in the long term. 

Keynote Address

Dr Christian Binz from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Zurich will deliver the keynote address regarding how the reuse of treated wastewater could be a viable alternative to about 30% of Bengaluru’s freshwater needs. This is necessary to explore given a large part of the city’s water demand is sourced from groundwater. Dr Binz will also discuss the global trend to move towards decentralised sewage treatment.

Panel Discussion: Emerging Markets for Wastewater Reuse in Urban India

The panel discussion will focus on a water-guzzling sector — construction — and how it can serve as a viable market for wastewater reuse.

Panel Discussion: Wastewater Standards and Regulation

The session will delve into the critical aspects of establishing water standards and regulations for the construction industry, with a focus on the safe reuse of treated wastewater. Our panelists will explore various facets of this topic, from developing comprehensive standards to implementing cost-effective monitoring systems, and seeking certification for emerging technologies. 

Panel Discussion: Wastewater Market Formation and Business Models

This session will focus on utilisation of treated wastewater in the construction industry through existing and emerging business models. The panellists will dissect various aspects such as pricing, convenience, discoverability, and the economic case for wastewater reuse for businesses in the sector.

About the Speakers

Dr Ananth S Kodavasal, Ecotech Engineering

Dr Ananth is the Director of Ecotech Engineering, which he founded in 1986. He received his B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from IIT Madras and his PhD from Vanderbilt University, USA. At Vanderbilt, he worked under the tutelage of Dr WW Eckenfelder Jr, the “godfather” of industrial wastewater treatment. He was an environmental engineer at Hindustan Dorr Oliver and Voltas International Ltd. in Bombay. He is a sought-after speaker on wastewater treatment and the author of the “STP Guide” handbook published by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.

Dr Christian Binz, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology

Christian is a group leader in the cluster Sustainable Transitions and Business Innovations (CIRUS) at the Department of Environmental Social Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, an Associate Post-Doctoral Researcher at CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden, and a guest lecturer at the University of Zurich.

He received his PhD in Economic Geography from the University of Bern in 2012. Christian is a recipient of the Giorgio Ruffolo Post-doctoral Research Fellowship in Sustainability Science (2015) at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and has worked as a post-doctoral Research Fellow at Lund University (Sweden), UC Berkeley (USA), Tsinghua University (China), and Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology.

His main research interests are centered on transformative innovation in the water, energy, transport and construction sectors. He has extensive experience in working in interdisciplinary research projects and has covered green innovation and transition processes in both developed (EU, US, Switzerland) and emerging economies (China, India).

Dr DN Ravi Shankar, Technical Advisor

Dr Ravi Shankar joined the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) in 1980 and served in various cadres for 29 years. He specialises in wastewater recycle and reuse and has served as a Technical Advisor to the Honourable Minister for BWSSB.

Dr Ravi Shankar has served as a consultant for various government and private organisations, such as BEL, Defence Department, and Karnataka Golf Association. He has also worked as the Government of Karnataka’s state consultant for bio-medical waste management on World Bank-funded projects. He is a member of the Advisory Committee of Lalbagh and Cubbon Park, a trustee of Bangalore Environmental Trust, and a consultant with Bosch Ltd and Sri Jayadeva Institute for Cardiovascular Sciences and Research.

Mr Eli Cohen, Ayala Water and Ecology

Mr Eli Cohen, the CEO of Ayala Water and Ecology, is a sustainability expert with over 26 years of experience in designing and implementing natural ecological solutions.

A thermodynamics expert with an MSc in material engineering, he became
a professional farmer after heading the R&D department at a leading hi-tech company for several years. Combining his scientific background, farming experience and continuous intuitional learning, Mr Cohen developed the Natural Biological System (NBS™) technology for energy-free wastewater treatment and sustainable approach to environmental issues. He developed his organic farm into an R&D and export centre that, along with being the largest of its kind in Israel, has identified and propagated aquatic plants with unique mutations for pollutant removal.

Mr Cohen has been the keynote speaker at environmental conferences around the world, including at the National Green Tribunal (Supreme Court) in India. He is advisor to the Mission to Clean Ganga and has worked with governments and industries around the world on sewage treatment, watershed rehabilitation, environmental buffering, etc. With his unique and practical approach, Mr. Cohen offers natural solutions to some of the most intractable pollution issues, such as landfill leachate, acid mine drainage, industrial sewage, gas stations, and more.

Mr Gowthaman Desingh, BOSON White Water 

Mr Gowthaman Desingh, a technology enthusiast with a passion for water recovery, is the co-founder of BOSON White Water. He oversees operations and builds systems to monitor water quality, quantity, and other metrics for the organisation’s central command centre. This is key for optimising resources to operate and monitor the system. He has been in the business of recovering potable water from wastewater since 2018.

Prior to that, he was an IT engineer building enterprise collaboration products for tech giants like Cisco Systems, Aricent, Capgemini, etc. He holds a Bachelor’s Engineering Degree in Electronics & Communication.

His work has featured in several media outlets: CNN, Republic TV, Indian Express, and Times of India, among others. He is the winner of AMRUT 2.0, a startup challenge run by the Minisry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India.

Dr Inayathulla M, Bangalore University

Dr Inayathullah M is a Professor at University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering, Bangalore University. He has more than 25 years of teaching experience and is a life member of the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (EWRI), ASCE, WWI, ASTEE, and ASFPM. Dr Inayatullah received his Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the University BDT College of Engineering, Davanagere, a Master’s in Engineering from UVCE, Bangalore University with a specialisation in Water Resources Engineering, and a PhD from Bangalore University. He has presented and published several technical papers in many national and international seminars and conferences.

Dr Johan Miörner, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology 

Dr Johan Miörner is a post-doctoral researcher at the Environmental Social Sciences department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and associate senior lecturer at Lund University. He is an economic geographer with a focus on regional industry dynamics, and sustainability transitions in infrastructure sectors. His work has been published across the social and economic sciences, with notable publications on theoretical and empirical issues related to the spatial dimension of industry dynamics.

Johan completed his education at Lund University, with an MSc in Economic History from the School of Economics and Management and a PhD in Economic Geography from the Social Science Faculty. His dissertation titled “(Re-) shaping regional economies: Regional innovation system dynamics and new industrial path development” was published by Lund University Press in 2019. His research has contributed with a dynamic perspective of regional innovation systems and has shed light on factors that enable or constrain industrial change under different regional conditions.

Johan has been an advisor to European policy makers on regional innovation policy, digitization, and transformative innovation policy for sustainability. He has published policy reports with the Swedish Institute, OECD, Vinnova, and the European Research Council, among others.

Mr M Selvarasu, LEAD Consultancy & Engineering Services

Mr M Selvarasu is the Managing Director of LEAD Consultancy & Engineering Services (India) Pvt Limited, one of the market leaders in mechanical, electrical and plumbing design and green design in India. The organisation has received leadership awards from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

Mr Selvarasu is one of the founding members of the World Green Building Council and the IGBC. He received the LEED Fellowship in 2015 and an IGBC Fellowship in 2016.

He has performed energy audits for more than 400 industries and buildings and conducted over 400 training programs on sustainability across the globe. He facilitated compliance with LEED and IGBC ratings in over 1,000 buildings and played a pivotal role in bringing LEED to India and indigenising the ratings to the Indian context.

Shri Mahesh T, KSPCB

Shri Mahesh T is the Chief Environmental Officer at the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. He has an MTech in Environmental Engineering and specialises in compliance verification and reporting, policies, and programmes.

Ms Meera K, Citizen Matters

Ms Meera K is the co-founder of Citizen Matters, an award-winning civic media platform. She helped set up Open City, an urban data platform. An Ashoka Fellow, she is recognised for building open knowledge platforms that allow citizens to collaborate and improve their cities. She is a founder-trustee at Oorvani Foundation.

Ms Moulya Donthi, Tankerwala

A computer science engineer turned environmentalist, Ms Moulya Donthi has a passion for social impact and technology and is dedicated to addressing India’s water challenges.

In 2020, she co-founded Tankerwala with her husband Shravanth. They initially launched a mobile app for water tanker deliveries. Recognising the pressing needs of the construction industry, she redirected her efforts toward supplying sewage treated water for construction. Tankerwala now delivers over a million litres of treated sewage water daily to support construction projects.

Moulya’s latest venture, BluCRED, is the world’s first treated sewage water trading platform.

Shri Prasanta K Mohapatra, Odisha Water Supply and Sewerage Board

Shri Prasanta Kumar Mohapatra is the Engineer-in-Chief of the Odisha Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Department of Housing and Urban Development Department, Government of Odisha.

He has done a BSc in Civil Engineering from NIT Rourkela (1985), an MTech in Water Resources Engineering from IIT Kharagpur (1987) and an MSc in Sanitary Engineering from the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (2000). Before joining the Government of Odisha, he was a faculty of Civil Engineering in NIT Rourkela.

Shri Prasanta Mohapatra has over 30 years’ experience in water supply and sewerage systems and has implemented sewerage projects in Puri and Bhubaneswar. He is instrumental in bringing black water security by implementing faecal sludge and septage management through the construction of faecal sludge treatment plants in all of the 115 urban local bodies of Odisha. He is now responsible for the treatment of greywater in urban Odisha. He has published his work in several international journals.

Mr Satish Mallya, Bangalore Apartments’ Federation

Mr Mallya is the Joint Secretary and Governing Council Member of Bangalore Apartments’ Federation. He has been a professional with multinational companies in the industrial sector for 30 years. For the past decade, he has been an entrepreneur in the weighing & measurement automation sector. He is part of a technical advisory team focusing on promoting sustainable living practices among apartment association members in the domains of energy management, water management, waste management, and fire safety management. He was the President of BAF Yelahanka cluster in 2021. Under his tenure, the Grey 2 Green pilot project was initiated to find sustainable solutions to utilise treated wastewater.

He did pro bono work for BBMP’s Covid-19 relief activities, He has volunteered for NHWC, a Government of Karnataka initiative during the lockdown in 2020, for which he received an awar from the government. He has organised free Covid-19 testing camps and vaccination drives for BAF member communities.

Ms Shreya Nath, WELL Labs

Ms Shreya Nath leads the Urban Water programme at WELL Labs. Her role involves mapping urban systems to uncover ways to build climate-resilient cities.

She has over eight years of experience in sustainable architecture and urban planning. She has contributed to the design and execution of a wide range of projects ranging from large-scale, master-planning schemes to detail-oriented residential buildings.

She is also passionate about research in the field of sustainability and holds a Master’s in Sustainable Environmental Design from the Architectural Association, London. Her research is centered around strategies to adapt and respond to rapidly changing climates and urban environments.

Dr Shubha Avinash, GITAM University

Dr Shubha Avinash is an Assistant Professor at the GITAM School of Technology in the Civil Engineering Department, GITAM University, Bengaluru. She takes courses in advanced water resources engineering, disaster management, water resources research using GIS, remote sensing, and hydrologic and hydroclimatic models.

Mr Suhail Rahman, CoEvolve Estates

Mr Suhail Rahman is the MD and CEO of CoEvolve Estates. His most recent project, CoEvolve Northern Star, has won national and international accolades and been featured in a United Nations report.

He recently completed a two-year term as head of the Sustainable Development Committee of the CREDAI Youth Wing. The committee imparted knowledge to fellow builders on sustainabability and saving costs through a series of masterclasses, journals, whitepapers, and webinars.

Mr Rahman is an engineer with an MS from University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. He has completed his business leadership program from IIM Bangalore. He believes in giving back to nature in whatever way possible and is passionate about sustainable practices. 

Dr Veena Srinivasan, WELL Labs

Dr Veena Srinivasan, a water expert with 20 years of experience, set up WELL Labs in 2023. She is leading the centre’s mission to transform scientific research into real-world impact by designing solutions that simultaneously create livelihoods and conserve the environment.

Veena has won several awards for her work including the 2015 Jim Dooge Award from the European Geophysical Union, the 2012 Water Resources Research Editor’s Choice Award from the American Geophysical Union. She chairs the Strategic Advisory Group for the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for UN SDG6 and was the Prins Claus Chair at Utrecht University, Netherlands from 2018 to 2020.

Veena received her PhD from Stanford University and is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

Mr Vijay Kumar N, Brigade Enterprises

Mr Vijay Kumar N is the Deputy General Manager – Environment, Sustainability & ESG at Brigade Group. An environment, sustainability, health, and safety professional, he has over 18 years’ experience in sustainability reporting, GHG inventorisation, lifecycle assessment, groundwater remediation, water and wastewater management, integrated management system certification, compliance management, regulatory permit management liaising, and due diligence, among other domains.

Mr Vikram Rai, Bangalore Apartments’ Federation

Mr Vikram Rai is the General Secretary of the Bangalore Apartments’ Federation (BAF). He envisions BAF to build on the strength of its network and provide member associations and residents a clear platform to adopt best practices in sustainable lifestyles, proactively collaborate, support neighborhood development and positively engage with the government and civic bodies to ensure fair and progressive policies.

Mr Rai is an engineering graduate from BITS Pilani and runs a health-tech startup. He previously co-founded a social-impact consulting firm, before which he worked in the technology industry for eight years. He is also a Trustee at MITU Foundation and a co-founder of the Flourishing Bengaluru Collective, an emergent collective working to develop a flourishing city. 

About WELL Labs

WELL Labs is a research and innovation centre based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) Society. We work closely with governments, businesses, multilateral institutions and civil society groups to enable a high quality of human life while simultaneously nurturing the environment.

Our partners are Rainmatter Foundation, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies and India Climate Collaborative.

About Infosys Science Foundation

The Infosys Science Foundation, a not-for-profit trust, was set up in 2009 by Infosys and members of its Board, with the objective of encouraging, recognising, and fostering world class scientific research connected to India. The Foundation furthers its objectives primarily through the Infosys Prize an annual award, to honour outstanding achievements of researchers and scientists.

The Foundation also partners with educational institutions around the world to host lectures featuring Infosys Prize laureates and jurors aiming to spark curiosity and inspire the next generation of scholars. The Foundation creates conversations around science and society, engaging with various sections of the community, through talks, initiatives, workshops and training.


Building Water-Resilient Cities: Strategies for Wastewater Reuse in Urban India

Mr Aditya Rao
Dr Ananth S Kodavasal
Shri BP Ravi
Dr Christian Binz
Dr DN Ravi Shankar
Mr Eli Cohen
Mr Gowthaman Desingh
Dr Inayathullla M
Dr Johan Miörner
Mr M Selvarasu
Shri Mahesh T
Ms Meera K
Ms Moulya Donthi
Mr Prasanta Mohapatra
Mr Satish Mallya
Ms Shreya Nath
Dr Shubha Avinash
Mr Suhail Rahman
Dr Veena Srinivasan
Mr Vijay Kumar N
Mr Vikram Rai

Date 17 October 2023

Time 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Venue Infosys Science Foundation, No. 2, 2nd Block, 14th Cross Road, Jayanagar East, Bengaluru
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Nearest Metro South End Circle (250 m)