A World Water Day series about the changemakers protecting, preserving, and rejuvenating freshwater resources throughout India – leading the change they want to see in the world.

Episode #1 highlights the efforts taken by industry to minimize its water footprint.
Look up the words “Pital Nagri” (Brass City) online and the first search shows a map of the city of Moradabad. For decades now, the city situated on the banks of the Ramganga River in Western Uttar Pradesh has been India’s hub for metalware. Today over 1,200 export units provide employment to over 3,50,000 people, manufacturing world-class products.

Moradabad is called “Pital Nagri” because of its glowing reputation for manufacturing world-class brass products / Photo courtesy: Tony Thomas

But the metalware industry in Moradabad has been entirely dependent on groundwater, especially to aid in the rinsing of its finished products. Estimates valued that up to 60-70% of the groundwater extracted by the metalware industry was used for rinsing.

In 2019, the industry became open to the idea of exploring solutions to reduce its water footprint. WWF-India commissioned the Counter Current Mechanisms (CCM) – a clean-tech system to help reduce the industry’s consumption of freshwater. The technology was designed by IIT-Kanpur with technical insights by the Metal Handicrafts Service Centre (MHSC), Government of India, and geared towards improving the conventional rinsing system in manufacturing units. CCMs reduce the water intake for rinsing from 2 to 3 freshwater taps, to just 1. This is by monitoring the level of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the rinsing tanks, where electroplated brassware products are cleaned, and automatically stopping the flow of water when TDS threshold reached below a safe, minimum limit.

The CCM technology designed by IIT-Kanpur with technical support by the Metal Handicrafts Service Centre (MHSC), Government of India

The metalware industry of Moradabad welcomed the adoption of CCMs with enthusiasm. 17 industrial units, including some of India’s leading exporters, have engaged from April 2021 onwards, with more showing keen interest in adopting them. The early adopters have enhanced their sustainability indexes and have saved energy and costs due to reduction in pumping groundwater and of Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) to treat their wastewater.

An electroplated brass plate after being cleaned in freshwater / Photo courtesy: Tony Thomas

The metalware industry’s enthusiasm and the results achieved are hopeful indicators to other industries following suit.

-2+ million litres of water saved
between April 2021 – December 2022

-Up to 35% water savings recorded

1 CCM cost reduced to ≤ INR 20,000
encouraging greater adoption readiness

-ROI on CCMs valued at ≤ 6 months

65 CCMs demonstrated to prospective industries
in the last 2 years

WWF-India acknowledges the immense institutional support provided by various stakeholders during multiple stages of the project – the true custodians of change. 

-Nagar Nigam, Moradabad, Government of Uttar Pradesh
-Ground Water Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh
-Metal Handicrafts Service Centre (MHSC), Government of India
-Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH)
-Global Buyers & Industry Associations