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National wastewater reuse policy sought [Governance]
India needs a national wastewater reuse policy to help address the “perennial concern” of urban water stress by mandating targets and laying out legislative, regulatory and financial measures to hit those targets, PwC said in a report.
The report, “Closing the water loop: Reuse of treated wastewater in urban India” released by the global consulting firm, underscores the need for a comprehensive national policy.
The country is expected to add approximately 404 million new urban dwellers between now and 2050.
This rapid urban growth will be linked with higher industrial output and greater energy demand thus adding to the urban water stress. Institutionalising the reuse of treated wastewater could go a long way in helping utilities to address this challenge in an effective manner.
Like other infrastructure sub-sectors in India, the wastewater sector would also have to be driven by government initiatives and implementation models would be designed around these initiatives.
Hence, sound policy and regulatory interventions by the Central and State Governments are a prerequisite for the launching of innovative reuse projects.
Regulatory intervention was key to prevent industries from utilising groundwater at a level that led to over-exploitation. The current low cost of exploiting groundwater makes reuse unviable and at the same time, irrecoverably depletes groundwater resources.
The Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Water Resources should work together to define quality norms for different grades of industrial water. This would help standardise the design of reuse systems nationwide.
Historically, infrastructure development in the water sector had been fully funded by the Central Government. For PPP (public-private partnership) structures to evolve in this sector, significant government interventions were required to create a favourable environment for private sector participation.