Monitoring of Community Wastewater for Early Signalling the Spread of COVID-19 in Chennai City

Outcome of the SDC supported study: Monitoring of community wastewater for early signalling the spread of COVID-19 in Chennai city

  1. The project: ‘Monitoring of community wastewater for early signalling the spread of COVID-19 in Chennai city’ supported by SDC has generated great interest among policy makers, scientists, NGOs, health professionals and the academia. The project was implemented by Mu Gamma Consultants, SRM Institute of Science & Technology and The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI). The duration of the project was from June 2020 to March 2021. The key activities of the project included analysis of wastewater samples, development of Policy Bulletin and Policy Brief, creating the Final Project Report, and dissemination of project findings primarily through an interactive session with NITI Aayog, public policy think tank of the Government of India. The high-quality knowledge products and outputs of the project are summarised below.

a.	A scientific publication titled: Water-sanitation-health nexus in the Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputra River Basin: need for wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 for preparedness during the future waves of pandemic has been published in the journal Ecohydrology & Hydrobiology by Chakraborty, P., Vinod, P.G., Hussain, Syed, J.  H., Pokhrel, B., Bharat, G. K. Basu, A.R., Fouzder, T., Pasupuleti, M., Urbaniak, M., Beskoski, V.P. Volume 22, Issue 2, April 2022, Pages 283-294.

b.	A scientific publication titled First surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and organic tracers in community wastewater during post lockdown in Chennai, South India: Methods, occurrence and concurrence has been published, in the journal Science of The Total Environment, Volume 778, 15 July 2021, 146252. Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN), is one of the largest journals in environmental sciences and enjoys a large international readership base. It is ranked #6 on 146 in the Environmental Science/Environmental Engineering category. 

c.	A Policy Brief summarising and analysing all the scientific findings and policy recommendations emerging out of the study was developed and launched during the World Sustainable Development Summit, 2021, hosted by TERI. This event was attended by over 100 practice managers, scientists, academicians, and policy makers.
d.	A Policy Bulletin with the study results was developed and launched during a Webinar held on December 11, 2020. This event was attended by more than 100 stakeholders. The coverage of this event was made by 12 national level newspapers.
e.	An article has been published on the Nature India website. Nature is the leading science magazine in the world.
f.	Another article had been published in Nextrends Asia, a platform the Swiss Education, Research and Innovation global network in Asia that connects the dots in science, technology, education and innovation, in January, 2021.
g.	An article by Dr Paromita Chakraborty and Dr Girija Bharat titled: ‘May this be the last wave of COVID-19 in India’ was published by on “Second Wave and Cities” theme Issue No 193, July 2021.
h.	A newspaper article titled ‘An early warning system will help India improve pandemic preparedness’ by Dr Girija Bharat, was published in The Economic Times, dated June 14, 2021.
i.	Yet another newspaper article by Dr Girija Bharat titled: Preparedness is Imperative’, appeared in The Pioneer on June 3, 2021. 
  1. The findings of this study were disseminated among the Policy makers of India including Secretaries/ Additional Secretaries/ Joint Secretaries in Ministry of Jal Shakti; Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; and other relevant ministries at Government of India, all State Governments, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). NITI Aayog invited the project team for a presentation on the study. After the presentation, a written communication along with the soft and hard copies of the Policy Brief was disseminated by NITI Aayog to the Chief Secretaries of all the State Governments and Union Territories of India.
  2. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India invited Dr Paromita Chakraborty to make a presentation on the study at a national level brainstorming event.
  3. GIZ in association with National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) has invited Mu Gamma Consultants to organize a two-day international Knowledge Exchange event on the topic and bring out policy recommendations for further action by MoJS.
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