Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Increasing pollution due to untreated waste and need of waste management as a policy issue
India’s cities are drowning in waste — but no one is bothered.
Effects of contaminated water
- The World Bank estimates that more than a fifth of all communicable diseases in India (21%) are caused by contaminated water.
- It attributes one in ten deaths in India to diseases or infections directly or indirectly transmitted through water.
- Over 500 children die every day in India due to diarrhoeal diseases.
Nitrogen, a growing pollutant
- According to a study by the Indian Nitrogen Group, the amount of reactive nitrogen in a bulk of the water bodies in India is already twice the limit prescribed by WHO.
- Nitrogen pollution from untreated sewage now outstrips nitrogen pollution from the Indian farmer’s urea addiction.
Clean India’s addition to nitrogen pollution problem
- Under the mission, in the past four years alone, over nine crore toilets have been constructed.
- Of these, only 60 lakh are in urban areas, where one assumes they are connected to some sort of sewage system.
- A study done by the Centre for Science and Environment in 30 cities in Uttar Pradesh found that only 28% of toilets in these cities were connected to a sewage system.
- The rest will be generating fecal sludge, sewage and septage which has no place to go.
- According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 63% of urban sewage flowing into rivers is untreated.
- Up to a third of the installed sewage treatment capacity is fully or partly dysfunctional
Sewage management is missing from agenda
- Of the 99 cities in the ‘Smart Cities’ mission, which are collectively spending ₹2 lakh crore over five years (from 2015), only 2.4% of the money is going to be spent on waste management.
- AMRUT covers a much larger spread — 500 so-called ‘mission cities’ across the country. Of these, only 217 pitched for a sewage treatment plant as an AMRUT project.
No access to water
- According to NITI Aayog’s composite water management index report released last year, 75% of households do not have access to drinking water on premises, 70% households lack piped water (potable or otherwise) and as many as 20 cities will effectively use up all available water resources by 2020!
- Sewage and waste need to come centre stage in our policy debates. Elections may be fought on ‘bijli, Sadak, paani’ (power, roads, water) but no election is fought over naali (drain). Unless that happens, we run the real risk of eventually either choking or being poisoned by our own waste.