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 ?
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.
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.