Providing drinking water remains a challenge not only in rural areas but even the metros. Water distribution, recycling and reuse, along with sewage management and treatment are providing new impetus to public-private partnerships. We will assist in unhindered flow of your business plans.
India is home to 16 percent of the world’s population but has access to only 4 percent of usable fresh water. The government has initiated various steps to address the problem. Rooftop rainwater harvesting systems are now mandatory for new buildings in 18 of the 28 states and 4 of the 7 Union territories. Nearly 50 percent of the funds for the Rural Employment Act are being used for water harvesting systems. Water companies from across the world have set shop in India to pursue around 70 projects in 20 cities.
According to a study by EBTC, exponentially increasing demand for water due to population growth and agricultural use, coupled with a high degree of variability in the availability of water resources throughout the country, will drive per capita accessibility of water to under 1,000 cubic metre by 2020 if left unchecked. Climate change and extreme climate variability are further likely to accentuate these numbers. The future evolution of the inter-sector shares is complex and uncertain; however, higher usage in the domestic and industrial domains is likely as the pace of economic development grows.
The study projects demand for municipal and domestic water to double to 108 billion cubic metre or 7 percent of total demand by 2030, and demand from industry to quadruple to 196 billion cubic metre or 13 percent, taking overall demand growth close to 3 percent per annum.
The approach paper for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan states: “Management of water resources poses increasingly difficult challenges and require attention. The total quantity of usable fresh water annually available in India is fixed, but its demand from expanding agriculture and other sectors is increasing. Water resources in many parts of the country are under severe stress leading to excessive exploitation of ground water. There is some scope for increasing water availability. While these opportunities must be fully exploited, the real solution has to come from greater efficiency in water use.
Normally, efficient use of scarce resources requires appropriate pricing, but pricing of water is a sensitive issue. This problem can be solved by providing ‘lifeline’ water supplies for drinking and cooking at very low prices, while charging appropriately for additional water use by domestic consumers. There is a stronger case for rational pricing reflecting the scarcity of water for commercial and industrial use. There is also a strong case for rational pricing of water for agricultural purposes. The proportion of water recycled in urban areas, and by Indian industry needs to be significantly increased. This will happen if supply for commercial purposes is appropriately priced.
Contamination of drinking water is the principal cause of health disorders, particularly amongst children. It is estimated that up to 13 per cent of drinking water in rural areas contains chemical contaminants including fertiliser run-offs (particularly urea and its decomposition products).”
As evident there is immense business potential in treatment and supply management of water. There are cities like Nagpur and Delhi which are already using PPP route to ensure better and 24/7 water supply.
The National River Conservation Plan launched in 1995 currently covers 35 stretches of polluted rivers in 164 towns spread over 20 states. The sewage treatment plants in the Ganga basin can handle just 31 percent of the domestic sewage generated. The figure is a tad higher at 35 percent in class I and II towns along the Ganga, the corresponding figure is 35 per cent. This means the majority of sewage generated is flowing into rivers and other water bodies untreated.
About 80 percent of water supplied, especially in urban areas, becomes wastewater. It is estimated that 22,900 mega litre per day (MLD) of domestic waste water is generated from urban centres while 13,500 MLD of industrial waste water is generated. The treatment capacity available for domestic waste water is only for 5,900 MLD, and 8,000 MLD of industrial waste water.
The government should be able to provide sewerage facilities to everyone and ensure that untreated sewage is not released into rivers. There is a need to explore and adopt low-cost methods of treating waste water including technologies based on biotic processes. Urban development planners must make facilities for the treatment of solid waste and sewage, as well as recycling of treated water an integral part of their plans. The utilisation of solid waste for producing manure, generation of energy, or as landfill must be done in a manner which is environmentally acceptable.
Studies have shown that a massive push is required to draw private investment to projects for drinking water supply, waste water recycling, treatment of solid waste and treatment of urban sewerage.
(Disclaimer: The information has been aggregated through secondary research. IFIE is not responsible for errors if any)