Rivers, seas and other water bodies in urban India are going to waste, with untreated water flowing into them like never before.
Nearly 90 per cent of the liquid sewage — 38,254 million litres — generated daily by cities that flows into streams, rivers and sea doesn’t met environment norms. Water should be of bathing quality to meet the standard.
Water waste generated by cities, where 36 per cent of the country’s people live, is polluting over 70 per cent of the water sources, says a report released by the Central Pollution Control Board on Wednesday.
India can treat 11,500 million litres of waste water every day — 31 per cent of what is generated. Poor maintenance, however, leaves only 39 per cent of it up to the environment norms, the report, which lists data from 908 cities, says.
The problem is much bigger, as only 38 per cent of the population, 286 million people, in these cities has access to
sanitation facilities and 78 per cent to clean drinking water.
Once all get these facilities, waste water “will be our biggest environmental challenge”, board chairman S.P. Gautam said.
Urban sewage was extracting a huge ecological and public health cost because of increasing water pollution, he said.
The report, however, does not quantify the loss.
“The cities are polluting their future drinking water sources,” he warned.
Emerging cities such as Varanasi, Faridabad, Agra, Surat and Cochin have been identified as danger zones, generating 68 per cent of the total waste without any treating facility.
Only Hyderabad, Vadodara, Chennai, Ludhiana and Ahmedabad can treat all of their sewage. Delhi and Mumbai can treat over 90 per cent of it.
In the remaining 900 cities, the capacity varies from five to 60 per cent.
Planning Commission, in the 11th Plan, did admit to inadequacies in waste-water treatment, but seems to be falling short of giving money for it.
“We’re looking at different approaches… and STPs (sewage treatment plants) are one of them. We don’t want to repeat the mistake of providing money for STPs… fail to meet environment norms,” said a Plan panel official, requesting anonymity.