New Delhi - the Barapullah Drain

The Barapullah drain systems discharges the waste water of 3.4 million New Delhi citizens into the Yamuna river. The drain receives 1.25 million litres of wastewater with variable quality conditions from both households and domestic industries. The temperatures vary depending on the seasons and the wastewater is strongly diluted during the monsoon.

About the Barapullah drain

The Barapullah drain was once a major storm drain. Due to limitations in urban water sewage treatment, the Barapullah currently discharges approximately 1.25 million litres of wastewater per day into the Yamuna river, accounting for 80% of the stormwater which is transported to the Yamuna from the region. The drain is approximately 100m wide and 16km long.

Domestic sources account for approximately 85% of pollution to the Yamuna river and include debris, untreated sewage and industrial effluents. Consequently, outflows contain concentrations of heavy metals (including lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) ), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and dissolved oxygen (DO) which have historically exceeded recommended levels.  More recent studies have highlighted the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) originating from untreated sewage on the Yamuna river.

    Main challenges

    The main challenges for this site and many similar sites in India are:

    • Health related issues such as microbiological contamination due to use of contaminated water;
    • Pollution of rivers due to discharge of organics, nutrients and micropollutants (such as pharmaceuticals);
    • Mixture of garbage and wastewater due to lack of organised garbage and waste removal services;
    • High flow and wastewater load variations due to lack of flood control and monsoon water drainage system;
    • Lack of sewage treatment operations

    Demonstrated Technologies

    TU Delft is working with IIT Kanpur to demonstrate the use of clean blocks as a filter to remove particles, organics and nutrient from the drain water of the Barapullah Drain


    IHE Delft is working with IIT Delhi to pilot a photo activated sludge system to remove nutrients from the drain water of the Barapullah Drain. In Pavitra Ganga it will be tested in combination with cleaning blocks.

    IHE Delft is working with IIT Delhi to assess different operational regimes for aerobic membrane bioreactors (MBR) to deal with the drain water from the Barapullah Drain in New Delhi.

    Demonstrated services

    IRAP, CNR-IRSA, VITO, IIT Kanpur and IIT Delhi are working together to implement a modelling strategy to analyse the changes in water availability and quality in response to a range of water management interventions, consisting of different degrees of wastewater treatment and disposal and water use efficiency improvements in various sectors.

    VITO, IRAP, CNR-IRSA, IIT Kanpur and IIT Delhi are working together to create enhanced land use maps which better characterize and differentiate industrialized regions via ground based validation and remote sensing.

    AKVO is working with IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi and VITO to deliver a water quality monitoring approach using hand held devices and Akvo Flow and Akvo Caddisfly tools.

    VITO is working together with IIT Delhi to design and install smart grab samplers at two locations within the Barapullah Drain area.  

    Aqua Q, IIT Delhi and IHE Delft are working together to demonstrate the AQUATRACK® service to monitor the effluent quality of the Aerobic MBR that will be installed at the Barapullah Drain innovation site.

    VITO will work together with AKVO, Aqua-Q and CNR-IRSA to develop a web-based information dashboard that provides easy access to relevant water information in the two case areas.