Article | September 27, 2013, 1.27 PM IST

Clean water: The right of every individual

According to estimates, by 2050, India’s population is expected to cross the 1.5 billion mark. Meeting the growing water demands of the second most populous nation in the world is a monumental challenge.

Keeping this in mind, the government’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-17) rightly observes there is a pressing need for a National Framework Water Law (which is otherwise a State subject) in India.

Many countries have laws or codes related to water, namely -- South African National Water Act of 1998 and European Water Framework Directive of 2000.

National Water Policy (2012) noted that issues related to water governance in India have not been addressed adequately. As a result, mismanagement of water resources has led to paucity in many parts of the country.

In India, water is primarily governed by laws of individual states. However, most of these laws are insufficient when it comes to addressing the concerns that plague the water sector.

As a result, both National Development Council and National Water Resources Council have emphasized the need for having a National Water Framework Law. This led to the creation of the Draft National Water Framework Bill, 2013.

Draft National Water Framework Bill, 2013

The Draft National Water Framework Bill, 2013, unveiled by the government in June, recognizes that ‘every individual has a right to a minimum quantity of potable water for essential health and hygiene and within easy reach of the household.’ It specifies that this minimum quantity of potable water shall not be less than 25 litres per capita per day.

In a bid to reuse wastewater and reduce dependence on freshwater, local authorities and governments must treat urban effluents from kitchens and bathrooms, the Bill observes. This water can then be used at least for non-potable purposes.

The Bill further says that the state’s responsibility for ensuring people’s right to water shall remain despite corporatization or privatization of water services.

It states that an independent statutory water regulatory authority shall be established by every state for ensuring equitable access to water for all and to ensure its fair pricing.

Decentralized Wastewater Management

Given the amount of wastewater that is generated on a daily basis in India, it is not possible for municipalities alone to treat the sewage. Besides, there are many urban areas that are not even connected to the city’s sewage network. In such cases, decentralization is the most viable option.

Decentralized wastewater management can be defined as the collection, treatment and reuse of wastewater from homes, communities or industries at or near the point of waste generation.

Decentralization has proven to be less expensive and less complex as opposed to centralized sewage treatment technologies. Also, it caters to a larger amount of wastewater than what can be treated centrally.

Decentralization of wastewater management has many advantages, including:

  • Easier maintenance of the sewerage system
  • Substantial reduction of investment in sewer lines
  • Effective management of ecology of rivers, streams and other water bodies
  • Involvement of larger section of society in management of wastewater, which would increase responsible use of water resources
  • Reduction in freshwater demand for the area
  • Quality of treatment is more effective than traditional system

States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have employed decentralized wastewater management technology.

By encouraging decentralization of sewage treatment, offering incentives on wastewater management and formulating a forward-looking water bill, it is clear that the government is taking steps to protect and fortify India’s water resources.

References:

http://mowr.gov.in/writereaddata/linkimages/nwfl1268291020.pdf

http://urbanindia.nic.in/programme/uwss/Guidelines_DWM.pdf

http://www.cseindia.org/node/3798

http://www.indialiaison.com/tax_incentives_for_industries.htm

Know more about GE waste water treatment products

Tags : wastewater treatment, wastewater management, wastewater treatment plant, sewage treatment, decentralized wastewater management, National Water Framework Bill, Twelfth Five-Year Plan, National Development Council, National Water Resources Council, population

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