A survey by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found that 351 river segments on 323 different rivers throughout the nation were polluted. What are the challenges in managing this Wastewater? What are the harmful impacts of Wastewater? Read the article to know more about Wastewater Management In India.
Wastewater Management In India is a serious issue which has an impact on both environment and the economy. Pharmaceutical pollution is a global problem that is probably hurting the health of the world’s rivers, according to research results that were recently published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
43 per cent, or over half, of the world’s rivers are contaminated with pharmaceutical active components at levels that could have catastrophic effects on health.
A framework that restricts the amounts of antibiotic residues in the waste waters of pharmaceutical production units and healthcare facilities is urgently needed given the size of the Indian pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. According to NITI Aayog, a majority of the nation’s freshwater sources—70%—were discovered to be tainted.
Let us check on what are the damages caused by wastewater.
Damage caused by Wastewater
- Humans are impacted by water pollution and are at risk of catching diseases like hepatitis from faeces in water sources. Infectious diseases like cholera and others can always spread due to subpar drinking water treatment and unsuitable water.
- As was previously mentioned, about half of the world’s rivers contain active pharmaceutical chemicals, which can hasten the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and have catastrophic effects on human health.
- The food chain is upset by water pollution. Some harmful compounds found in contaminated water include cadmium and lead; when these pollutants are consumed by animals (such as fish), they can continue to disturb the food chain at higher levels.
- Wastewater is frequently processed and put to use in irrigation, which has an adverse effect on the soil and crops. When wastewater isn’t correctly handled, chemicals that are hazardous to crops may end up in the soil.
- The soil will produce fewer crops at a slower rate as a result of these contaminants. Remember that these crops will eventually be consumed by people, which may be dangerous.
- Effects on aquatic life and water bodies: Water bodies are typically the ones most at risk from wastewater’s negative effects. Aquatic habitats are disturbed by toxic substances in the wastewater.
- Organisms begin to break down enormous amounts of biodegradable materials that have entered the water, which requires a lot of dissolved oxygen. For marine life to thrive, dissolved oxygen is essential, and when its levels drop, fish may face a serious threat to their lives.
- Additionally, the extra nutrients in wastewater lead to eutrophication in aquatic bodies and a slow decline in water quality.
- Grease and oil, which are more difficult to degrade and can settle on the water’s surface, may be present in wastewater. This obstructs the light that water photosynthetic plants require.
- Lack of potable water. According to the UN, millions of people worldwide, especially in rural areas, lack access to sanitary facilities or clean water to drink.
- According to data from the World Bank, “Deteriorating water quality is stifling economic progress and deepening poverty in many nations.”
- The rate of increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the regions inside the connected water basins decreases by one-third when biological oxygen demand, the indicator that measures the organic pollution present in water, rises above a certain threshold.
Wastewater management in India possesses certain challenges too.
Challenges in Indias Wastewater Management
- A suitable wastewater treatment infrastructure is a prerequisite for effective wastewater management. In India, there is a severe dearth of this infrastructure. India’s present capacity for water treatment is only 27.3%, according to a recent assessment by the Central Pollution Control Board (March 2021).
- Many of India’s existing garbage treatment facilities are not even operational. They either require urgent maintenance and repairs, or they never took off.
- Water is designated as a State topic in Schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution, but it is expressly bound by the rules listed in the Union List.
- It gives the Parliament the ability to pass laws governing the development and regulation of interstate waters in the wider public interest. While the State still has the authority to create its own rules governing how water is used in the State, including for irrigation, drainage, embankments, water storage, and water supply.
- Due to the power disparities between the Center and the States caused by these constitutional procedures, there is uncertainty regarding federal jurisdiction.
- The absence of duties and responsibilities for all parties involved that are clearly defined leads to either duplication of effort or truancy.
- According to the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, local, rural and urban levels of water resource control are increasingly fragmented.
- Water governance must be recognised at all levels for the effective operation of policies and the general development of water bodies, even though a decentralised approach is required for better assessment and resolution of wastewater concerns.
- Given the severity of the issue, wastewater treatment in India cannot be left solely in the hands of the government. The reality is that the government lacks the means to satisfy the enormous demand. Finding private-public cooperation is the obvious approach. But even this falls short of the necessary capacity.
Initiatives by the Government
Water Act of 1974 (Prevention and Control of Pollution)
- It was the nation’s first legislative action to deal directly with the problem of water contamination and conservation. This Act addresses wastewater discharge as a pollution issue.
- The establishment of Central and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) tasked with the prevention and management of water pollution is made possible by this Act.
- SPCBs review and determine standards for wastewater treatment facilities, trade effluents, and sewage and trade effluents.
Also read: Environmental Laws in India – ClearIAS
Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution), Act of 1974, and Environment (Protection) Act of 1986
According to the provisions of these Acts, industrial units must set up effluent treatment facilities (ETPs) and treat their effluents to meet the specified environmental standards before releasing them into rivers and other bodies of water.
National River Conservation Plan
Among the pollution control measures undertaken under the NRCP are the installation of sewerage systems to capture and divert raw sewage entering rivers through open drains, as well as the construction of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) to treat the diverted sewage.
Namami Gange Programme
The Union Government’s Namami Gange Programme is an Integrated Conservation Mission designed to achieve the twin goals of effective pollution reduction and the preservation and revitalization of the National River Ganga.
On the website of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, it is stated that 68 sewage treatment facilities under the Namami Gange Program have been finished in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh. In addition to that, 69 sewage treatment management projects have been in progress.
- Wastewater treatment is essentially a methodical procedure that begins right at the source. For instance, a large society or complex that generates a lot of home or industrial waste is required to have a sewage treatment plant (STP) system where wastewater is treated initially before being deposited into a big facility.
- There are many operational scales that decentralised wastewater treatment plants can accommodate. Small townships, urban and rural clusters, gated colonies, factories, and industrial parks can all be used to put it up. Such options have the advantage of being implemented on-site, which treats wastewater in a direct manner.
- Private collaborations in wastewater and sewage management are encouraged, allowing India to benefit from more advanced technology, customised solutions, and increased productivity.
- Smaller towns and villages can benefit from private investment by receiving the funding they frequently lack to build adequate wastewater treatment facilities. Additionally, private business owners might be helpful in managing and maintaining India’s underperforming STP facilities.
- Few states have implemented wastewater management regulations, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh. The efforts of a few states to combat water pollution are ineffective in the absence of a comprehensive federal mandate and standard regulations across states to regulate the untreated wastewater pouring into the water bodies.
- Even though building treatment facilities can be expensive, pricing needs to be reasonable. In order for treated water to be generally accepted, it is advised that its cost continue to be lower than that of potable and drinking water. An appropriate financial model to pay the cost of recovery from building up the treatment facilities might be provided by the value gained from nutrients (such as phosphate and nitrogen) and biogas energy.
- For instance, the organic materials in sewage can be a rich source of biogas that can be used to produce power. The American cities of Gresham and Oakland have already adopted these devices. These designs have been shown to be both economical and energy-efficient.
Article Written By: Atheena Fathima Riyas