The need for proper sewage treatment is important for any city, town or civilization. In fact, even the world’s most ancient civilizations had well planned system for sewage treatment. But as cities and civilizations have grown more complex and advanced, the nature of sewage or wastewater management has also changed.
The pattern of sewage treatment is also changing with time. Once seen purely as a government concern, there is now a greater drive to decentralize sewage treatment in India. This has led to a greater demand among STP plant manufacturers in India. In fact, we are now seeing a varied pattern of ownership and management of STP plants.
Decentralization of STP plants
In theory the Central government is committed to decentralization of STP plants. Under AMRUT, the Smart Cities program of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the government has advocated for the promotion of decentralization of STP plants. The idea is now being promoted at State levels.
For instance, last year the New Delhi Municipal Corporation actively started taking steps to decentralize the STP plants in the Capital. The NDMC has started with building seven plants at various locations and plans to build few more. The plants were contracted and are managed in collaboration with private companies. Most of these are built in parks across the city with only one located next to a housing colony.
There are many reason why decentralization makes sense, especially in a country as overburdened by population as India. Some of these benefits are:
Overburdened government STPs: With India’s massive population, running STPs is bound to be a challenge. As a matter of fact, government facilities do not come close to fulfilling the need for wastewater management in India with many States and UTs not even having a single one. The figures say it all – the approximate sewage generation in 2015was 61754 MLD. However, the treatment capacity was for less than half that quantity at 22963 MLD. In other words, government run STPs are severely inadequate to meet the rising demands.
Rising pollution levels: What happened to the wastewater that is not treated? Most of it flows into rivers and other waterbodies. Last year alone an estimated 38791 MLD ended up in water sources like rivers and lakes. This has obvious dangerous consequences. The accumulation of sewage in our rivers has already made them among the most polluted in the world. It has also seeped into the groundwater, severely polluting all sources of drinking water in the country.
Self-sufficiency: The reason many larger organizations, housing projects and communities are now getting investing in STP plants in India is because of the self-sufficiency it offers. It lessens their dependence on the government facilities and offers them an opportunity to ensure the judicious use of resources.
Entry of Private companies: Once a largely a government run field in both manufacturing and management, the make-up of the STP plant manufacturing sector has changed significantly in the last few years. Most STP plants manufacturers India today are in the SME sector. The nature of involvement of private players has also changed, becoming a much more involved, from manufacturing, installation to long-trek management.
Alternative water source: The treated wastewater from STP plants has many usages. The decentralized STPs built recently by NDMC for instance, are used in horticultural and agricultural purposes. The reason for pushing STP decentralization in building smart cities is the alternate source of water that can be put to a number of different uses.
In fact, planners see a far greater use for the treated water in our homes. Fresh water uses like bathing, drinking account for just 40% water usage in an average household. Other requirements like flush water, gardening water and so on. This would also lessen our burden on an already overtaxed freshwater system.
Better management: The problem of inadequate STPs in India is compounded by the poor management of these plants. However, the decentralized plants run by private companies have a much better record. Consequently a system of management has emerged that includes all kind of private-public partnerships that includes the manufacturing, management and revenue collection.
Decentralization is essential in most infrastructural solution in a country with limited resources like India. With a number of reliable STP plants manufacturers India sewage treatment is now becoming more decentralized and effeicient.