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Waste Water Treatment in India

  Oct 13, 2021

Waste Water Treatment in India

Q Why is it in News  ?

  • According to the latest report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in India are able to treat a little more than a third of the sewage generated per day.
  • CPCB is a statutory organisation which was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

Q What are key highlights of the Report ?

  • Installed Capacity of STPs:

    • India generated 72,368 MLD (million litres per day) whereas the installed capacity of STPs was 31,841 MLD (43.9%).
    • 5 states and Union Territories (UT) - Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Karnataka - account for 60% of the total installed treatment capacity of the country.
    • Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland have not installed sewage treatment plants.
    • Chandigarh ranks first in terms of total sewage generated to what is actually treated.
  • Reuse of Treated Sewage:
    • It is maximum in Haryana followed by Puducherry, Delhi, Chandigarh.
      • It has not assumed much importance in the policy planning of many state governments.
    • Treated sewage water can be reused for horticulture, irrigation, washing activities (road, vehicles and trains), fire-fighting, industrial cooling, toilet flushing and gardening.
    • This can decrease the water demand from aquatic sources like rivers, ponds, lakes and as well as groundwater sources.

Q What are the Concerns highlighted in report ?

  • Concerns:
  • Increased Sewage Generation:
    • CPCB has estimated that sewage generation will increase to over 1,20,000 MLD by 2051.
  • Gaps in Treatment Capacity:
    • The gaps in treatment capacity are amplified at local levels, as STPs are concentrated in larger cities and Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) are unevenly distributed across states.
  • Economic Case:
    • Modern Wastewater Treatment Plants (WTPs) are capital-intensive and require the use of innovative technology, such as sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based trackers.
    • The high upfront capital requirements in machinery and equipment, combined with unpredictable revenue streams, make this a high-risk sector, deterring private sector investment.

Q What are related Government Initiatives ?

  • Related Government Initiatives:
    • Recognising this challenge, the Indian government shifted its focus to solid waste, sludge and greywater management under the Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 (SBM 2.0) which was announced recently.
    • Following a sustained focus on achieving Open Defecation-Free (ODF) status, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) developed detailed criteria for cities to achieve ODF+, ODF++ and Water+ statuses in May 2020.

Q What can be Way Forward ?


  • The water and wastewater treatment market in India is a US$4-billion industry, growing at 10-12 % annually (pre-covid-19).
  • In a post-pandemic economy, central and state governments must work in partnership to create markets for treated water.
  • Attaining high rates of economic growth for India will directly be a function of the sustainable use of water, particularly in recycling & reuse as it will be crucial for future urban planning and policy.
  • Wastewater can be a cost-efficient and sustainable source of energy, nutrients and other useful by-products like organic and organic-mineral fertiliser.
    • The benefits of extracting such resources from wastewater go beyond human and environmental health. They have implications on food and energy security as well as climate change mitigation.