Sunny George believes that if Science does not reach the common man, then it has lost its purpose. It is for this reason that he has always worked towards fine-tuning scientific ideas and concepts into developmental initiatives of use to the common man. George is the Director of SCMS Water Institute at SCMS School of Engineering and Technology and has executed a number of water-related projects at the institute, including a request by the Corporation of Cochin to chart out a local water policy.
George holds a PhD in Limnology (science of freshwater). “Water is the most beautiful thing on the Earth. A subtle change to its condition can affect us greatly. Unfortunately, it is being highly mismanaged,” he says. He holds fellowships from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, Belgian Royal Institute of Natural Science, Brussels, United Nations University, Tokyo and the United States Department of State, Washington DC.
George has worked for the Biodiversity Programme of the United Nations and was also the founder General Secretary of the Limnological Association of Kerala. His acquaintance with Late Prof Pradeep P Thevanoor, the then VC of SCMS Group happened after he was invited as a member of the Indian Water Mission to the US in 2012. “Like myself, he was committed to water and its conservation and harboured a desire to develop a centre to solve water-related issues.”
Under his guidance, the Water Institute signed MoUs with five German companies. Speaking about the objectives of the projects at the institute, he says, “The primary goal of the institute is incubation and fine-tuning of technology. When it comes to international technology, we don’t believe in lifts, but customise it according to the conditions here.” About 100 students of the college from MTech Environmental Engineering and BTech Civil Engineering work on the Centre’s projects.
Explaining more about the first-of-its kind project introduced recently in the institute, he says “The latest is an ‘Automated Bio-Sensing’ project, wherein we will be using minuscule biological organisms. The changes in their movement will be recorded using a software, which in turn will help analyse the change in water quality.”
Point recharging of wells as climate change adoption strategy, Recharging of bore wells, Open Wells and Water Quality Atlas are some of the other projects at the Water Institute. “The Water Quality Atlas which were done for Koratty Panchayat, where we collected water from 190 drinking water sources such as domestic and public wells. All the water sources were later documented using Geographic Information System (GIS) to prepare a water quality atlas. The ultimate goal of the institute is to develop a Centre of Excellence for urban water security,” explains the professor. George and his SCMS team have also conducted water audit for a couple of commercial buildings as part of the projects at the water institute.
On the task of charting a Water Policy for Kochi, he says, “This is the first such step by a local self governing body in the country. Anything that cannot be measured cannot be managed and for managing any resource, we need a policy. A water policy will help give a direction and thrust for water-related projects here. The fact is that the local body has money and power but no knowledge of technology. The first step towards the policy is to conduct a water audit, which has already begun.” The water policy will look into optimisation of pipelines, strategy for protection from saline water, alternate measures, technological options for water supply, ward-wise supply and demand of water, mapping of water stressed areas, water balance strategy for protection of water assets and water networks.
George dreams of an age where water is available to everyone 24 x7. “Water is a challenging element. It is always a pleasure to be able to provide water to an area where it is not available or to replenish it from where it has depleted,” he signs off.