News Details | 14-May-2012

NTU embarks on landmark environmental project in Kandy, a UNESCO world heritage city in Sri Lanka

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is cleaning up Kandy Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the sacred city of Kandy.

In a partnership with University of Peradeniya (UOP), Sri Lanka’s premier university, NTU has engineered wet-lands as a green and cost-effective solution to remove pollutants from the lake. Located at the heart of Sri Lanka, Kandy Lake discharges into a river which serves as the source of water for the city’s 120,000 residents and a transient population of close to 150,000 workers and visitors.

The Lake Kandy project is the inaugural initiative under a Memorandum of Understanding signed today between NTU and UOP which aims to see the two universities work together to tackle environmental issues.

The collaboration was inked in Sri Lanka today by Professor Bertil Andersson, NTU President and Professor S.B.S. Abayakoon, Vice Chancellor of UOP.

Professor Andersson said the MOU is a timely framework for greater research collaboration on environmental science and engineering projects between the two universities, such as wastewater treatment, water quality management and sanitation.

“NTU can bring to the table its deep expertise in sustainable environmental technologies, through our Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI), which is at the forefront of research and development in environmental and water technologies,” said Professor Andersson.

“Such joint projects will enable both universities to benefit not only in terms of research and education, but also help to bring about practical benefits and solutions to environmental issues for the greater well-being of our communities.”

The lack of clean drinking water is one of the problems the world is facing. Water research is NTU’s strength and a pillar of the university’s research focus on sustainability. Besides sustainability, NTU has four other research focus areas, namely healthcare, new media, as a knowledge hub of the East and West, and innovation, collectively termed the Five Peaks of Excellence.

UOP is one of the largest and most established universities in Sri Lanka, well known for its comprehensive education system and for having the top engineering faculty in the country.

UoP’s Vice Chancellor, Professor S.B.S. Abayakoon, said: “This collaboration will benefit us in enhancing our capacity in environmental engineering research and make new path way to conduct international collaborative research. At a time of rapid development, new technologies are essential to safe guard our water resources from pollution. I very much will look forward to the outcome of this research to keep our water environment clean.”
The MOU also paves the way for future staff and student exchanges between the two educational institutes, which can contribute to the students’ global education experience.

Currently, over half of NTU undergraduates already have overseas exposure from internships and student exchanges, such as through NTU’s Global Immersion Programme, with a significant percentage of students opting for Asian countries such as China, India and Vietnam. Up to six NTU students will be involved in this Kandy Lake research project.

Four NTU students are already involved in the Kandy Lake project, helping to set up an Environmental Club and wetland education programme in partnership with a local girls college in Kandy.

The wetland education programme involves small environmental models which the NTU volunteers use to teach the local Kandy students about environmental sustainability and responsibility and the effects of pollution in nature. The programme will also see the local college students taking charge to care for the pilot wetlands plant in their neighbourhood.

This three-year Kandy Lake project is managed by NTU’s Environmental Endeavour 2 (EE2), a joint initiative between NTU and the Lien Foundation. The project is spearheaded by Dr Shameen Jinadasa from UOP, who received EE2’s Lien Environmental Fellowship Award.

He spent six months in NTU to plan the project, designing a ground-up plan to mitigate pollution at the lake with guidance from NTU professors.

Dr Jinadasa said that the fellowship award had allowed him to interact with leading scientists in the field of environmental engineering here at NTU, leading to a rich exchange of ideas that has helped develop his capacity as a researcher and academic.

“My time at NTU has also led to collaborative research between my home institution, Peradeniya University, and NTU which will be beneficial to Sri Lanka as a country specifically but more generally to the developing world,” he added.
“I believe these initiatives by NTU are facilitating an important regional knowledge and technology transfer process and will continue to build strong international research partnerships in the future.”

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Media contact:

Lester Kok
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: 6790 6804

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences.  In 2013, NTU will enrol the first batch of students at its new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which is set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to four world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and is setting up a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.

For more information, visit


Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI) is NTU's and Singapore's response to the worldwide quest for sustainable supplies of water.

At the forefront of the national R&D effort in environmental and clean water technologies, NEWRI steers the development of the clean water sector in Singapore, recognised worldwide as a leading adopter of new water technologies, especially in membrane applications, which NEWRI is renowned for.

Launched in 2008, multi-centre institute has 400 researchers engaged in pioneering projects, bringing together different groups across the university so as to leverage their strengths.

With S$228 million in funding from Singapore’s agencies such as Singapore's National Research Foundation, Economic Development Board, and Environment & Water Industry Development Council, NEWRI's ultimate goal is to translate research in cutting-edge environmental and water technologies into industry-relevant applications that benefit society and the community at large.

About EE2 and LEF

The Lien Environmental Fellowship (LEF) was initiated in March 2010 as part of the Phase 2 collaboration between NTU and the Lien Foundation, under the Environmental Endeavour 2 (EE2) programme.

Managed by NEWRI, EE2 aims to bring clean water and sanitation to developing communities in Asia. The LEF enables academics and researchers to spend up to six months at NTU working with NEWRI to better conceptualise their proposal. If successful, the Fellow is expected to implement a demonstration project in a local community and champion the solution, facilitating the transfer of technology to other communities.

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