Securing the Future: Concerted efforts to ensure sustainable water supply

Concerted efforts to ensure sustainable water supply

India is making concerted efforts to safegu­ard the quality of water and other basic ne­eds including sanitation and hygiene. Both the central and state governments have laun­ched various flagship programmes to improve water and waste management in the country. However, many challenges in the sector remain unaddressed such as water leakages, the gap between wastewater generation and treatme­nt, and project time and cost overruns.

Indian Infrastructure takes a look at some of the initiatives and developments in the water and waste sector during the past year…



Policy impetus

  • Water security and self-sustainability: To provide reliable and affordable water supply and increase the coverage of sewerage and septage services, the Government of India laun­ched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Ur­ban Transformation (AMRUT) 2.0 in October 2021. AMRUT 2.0 has been allocated funds of around Rs 2,990 billion, nearly three times the spend under AMRUT 1.0. As of August 31, 2022, 4,539 projects worth Rs 304.99 billion have been completed and works have been awarded for 1,324 projects worth Rs 518.62 billion. The mission aims to achieve a circular economy of water by providing functional tap connections to all households, rejuvenating waterbodies and wells, recycling and reusing treated water, harvesting rainwater and augmenting water sources.
  • Three years of JJM: With the country experiencing water scarcity due to various reasons such as drought and shifts in weather patterns, the Government of India announced the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) – “Har Ghar Jal” sc­heme on August 15, 2019, with the aim to deliver clean and adequate drinking water to all rural households through individual tap connections by 2024. As of August 31, 2022, over 101 million households have been provided with tap water connections. More than 52 per cent of tap water connections have been provided in rural households under the mission. Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Da­man & Diu have become the first “Har Gh­ar Jal”-certified state and union territory in the country, respectively.
  • Continuation of SBM-U: Swachh Bharat Mis­sion-Urban (SBM-U) 2.0 was launched in Oc­to­ber 2021, as a continuation of SBM-U 1.0 till 2025-26. The main focus of SBM-U 2.0 is sustaining open defecation free (ODF) status, achieving scientific processing of solid waste in cities, and managing wastewater in cities with populations less than 0.1 million that are not covered under AMRUT. The scientific processing of solid waste aims to ac­hieve garbage-free status for all cities. SBM-U 2.0 has been allocated a total financial outlay of Rs 1,416 billion for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26. This is 2.5 times the financial allocation in the last phase of the mission. As of August 2022, more than 4,300 cities have ODF status, over 3,400 ci­ties have ODF+ status and 1,000 plus cities have ODF++ status.
  • Rehabilitation of River Ganga: The Govern­me­nt of India launched the National Mission for Clean Ganga to intervene in reducing pollution, and conserving and rejuvenating Riv­er Ganga. This includes interception, diversion and treatment of wastewater that flows into open drains. The various methods that are being adopted to reduce pollution under the mission include bioremediation, in-situ treatment, building sewage treatment plants (STPs) and effluent treatment plants, among others. As of August 2022, out of a total of 378 projects under the mission, 215 have been completed, 128 are under progress, 13 are at the tendering sta­ge and 22 are yet to be tendered.

Technological initiatives

  • JJM and AMRUT go digital: Technology has acted as a facilitator for the two flagship pro­­grammes of the government, the JJM and AMRUT 2.0. Under the JJM, many digital platforms are being executed including the JJM dashboard, JJM Integrated Mana­ge­ment In­formation System, an IoT platfo­rm, JJM Wat­er Quality Management Infor­mation System, and a mobile application. In order to collect the data in one place, AMRUT 2.0 has been designed as a paperless project with complete digital monitoring of project progress and funding. For AMRUT 2.0, urban local bodies submit their city wa­ter balance plans and city water ac­tion plans through an online portal covering all proposed projects in the areas.
  • Fully automated STP in Delhi: The 318 million litres per day (mld) STP at the Coronation Pi­llar in North Delhi, has been built using state-of-the-art technology and is fully automated through a supervisory control and data acqui­si­­tion system. It was inaugurated in March 2022. The sewage, which used to go directly into the supplementary drain, is now being treated at this STP through the pumping station available in Burari, Delhi.
  • Deployment of SBR technology for STPs in Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Metropolitan Wa­­ter Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) is making use of sequential batch reactor (SBR) technology to treat se­wage at its STPs. SBR is a technology used to treat industrial and municipal waste. Acc­ording to HMWS&SB, SBR technology requir­es less space than moving bed bioreactor technology, which was being us­ed in their STPs earlier. The maintenance cost for SBR is also lower. Some of the STPs equipped with SBR technology are a 14 mld STP at Fox Sagar, a 5 mld STP at Vennela Gada, and a 28 mld STP at Pariki Cheruvu.

Desalination in India

  • NIOT and Lakshadweep promote OTEC: The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), in collaboration with the Lakshadweep administration, has commenced a pilot project for an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)-po­wered desalination plant in Kavaratti, Lak­sha­dweep. This plant will be the first-of-its-kind in the world, generating drinking water fr­om seawater using an indigenous te­ch­no­logy based on green energy and environmentally friendly processes. It is expected to be completed by December 2023. Curren­tly, La­ksha­dweep is using the low temperature thermal desalination (LTTD) process for running its existing plants at three locations. Be­si­des, work is in progress on six more is­lands for LTTD plants, each with a capacity to generate 0.15 mld of drinking water.
  • First government desalination plant for in­dustries: A 100 mld capacity desalination plant was inaugurated in Dahej, Gujarat, in June 2022, at an investment of over Rs 8.8 bi­llion. This first fully government desalination plant only for industrial use will treat seawater through extra reverse osmosis. The daily requirement of water for industries in Da­hej is estimated to be around 200 mld, whi­­ch used to be fetched from the Narmada river. Industries will now get treated seawater with the help of this desalination plant.
  • Second desalination plant in Nemmeli: A new 150 mld desalination plant is being built in Nemmeli, Chennai. It is expected to be completed by 2023 and will help supply water to nearly 0.9 million residents in the areas of Velachery, Madipakkam, Sholinga­na­llur, Alan­dur and Pallavaram. As of May 2022, more than 50 per cent of the construction work on the plant has been completed, in­clu­ding the construction of a seawater in­take sump, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis and dissolved air flotation in the plant.