The past year saw marked growth in the urban water supply and waste management sector. With the centre’s focus on the sector, several key water supply and sewage treatment projects were completed in the past 12 months. There has also been a surge in the number of projects planned by civic agencies for execution in the near future. Meanwhile, the adoption of technology solutions by urban local bodies to enhance service delivery has also been on the rise.
A look at some of the key developments over the past year…
- On the policy front, the centre approved the creation of the National Council for River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) to replace the National Ganga River Basin Authority as the overseeing body for rejuvenation of the Ganga river. The government also elevated the status of the National Mission for Clean Ganga to that of an authority, extending its mandate from project funding to the enforcement of pollution laws and penalisation of defaulters. Meanwhile, it has recommended the setting up of a National Water Commission, which will subsume the existing Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board.
- Considerable progress has been made under the three flagship central missions. A total of 90 cities have been identified under the Smart Cities Mission for development into smart cities. Together, these cities will implement projects entailing an investment of about Rs 1,192 billion. Under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Rs 43.48 billion of funds have been released during 2015-17 in the form of central assistance. In the current financial year, Rs 21.33 billion has been released (as of July 17, 2017). Meanwhile, significant progress has been recorded under the Swachh Bharat Mission, with 796 cities declared as being open defecation-free. As of July 2017, about 3.7 million toilets had been constructed under the mission and about 53 per cent of the total wards in the country were practising 100 per cent door-to-door waste collection. In addition, about 22 per cent of the urban waste collected is being properly treated and processed. Meanwhile, under the Namami Gange programme, the centre had sanctioned 155 projects as of July 2017. Of these, 39 projects have been completed so far.
- Aided by the central missions, civic agencies across the country have rigorously taken up water supply and sanitation projects. The cities of Delhi, Ahmedabad and Siddipet have implemented pilot projects for 24×7 water supply. Key schemes, such as the Porur water supply scheme in Tamil Nadu and Phase I of the Mission Bhagiratha in Telangana, have been commissioned over the past year. The Uttar Pradesh government also commissioned a 245 million litre per day (mld) water treatment plant (WTP) at Siddhartha Vihar in Ghaziabad. Further, more than 320 mld of sewage treatment capacity has been developed in the country over the past year. Work on several key water supply and sanitation projects was taken up. Work commenced on the 403 mld Surya regional bulk water supply scheme for the western subregion of the Mumbai metropolitan region in Maharashtra. Development works for 420 mld of sewage treatment capacity, including key projects such as the Coronation Park sewage treatment plant (STP) in Delhi and the Koyambedu STP in Tamil Nadu, are currently under way.
- Meanwhile, 24×7 water supply projects for Rajkot and Pimpri-Chinchwad were approved. New WTP facilities, including the 300 mld plant on the Mahi river in Gujarat, were also approved. Eleven key STP projects, with a combined treatment capacity of over 1,273.5 mld, were also approved for development. Of these projects, five are in Maharashtra alone. Besides, an investment of over Rs 65 billion is being planned for 19 key water supply augmentation projects. Civic agencies are also planning 24×7 water supply projects for Kochi, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Karimnagar, Hubballi-Dharwad and Davangere. Meanwhile, 13 key sewage treatment projects, with a combined capacity of 2,038 mld, are also being planned for development.
- On the solid waste management front, at least 3,150 tonnes per day of waste management facilities have been set up over the past year. Meanwhile, waste processing plants are also planned for Sulthan Bathery, Jamnagar, Tiru-chirappalli and Bhandwari.
- Several civic agencies have deployed technology solutions to improve their services. For instance, a global positioning system has been installed in Hyderabad to map the water supply infrastructure. Supervisory control and data acquisition systems have been installed in Lucknow and Bhopal to monitor water leakages. Civic agencies in cities such as Bengaluru, Kannur and Delhi have launched mobile applications to address customer grievances regarding their services.
- The water supply and sanitation sector grew substantially over the past year. Much of the sector’s buoyancy can be attributed to the support lent by central schemes. However, measures need to be taken to ensure greater financial independence of civic agencies, enhanced capacity building and the timely completion of projects.