Is STP installation a success in India?
In November 2014, a month after the start of the federal government's ambitious sanitation program, the Federal Minister of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change with a mission “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” said at a press conference that 70% of India's sewage treatment plants (STP’s) are non-functional.
For countries that have revolutionized waste management and are trying to treat wastewater before it is disposed of, the minister pointed out that the proportion of dysfunctional STP is high. India's history of STP was not very good, as many cases of dysfunctional STP’s were revealed. Many problems, from high maintenance costs to lack of land availability, contributed to the sad state of STP’s in India.
Central Pollution Control Committee (CPCB) Report 2014-15 investigated the state of STP’s in India. The report stated that, of India's 816 STPs, 522 were in operation and 79 were not. In January 2015, 145 STPs were under construction and 70 new STPs were proposed. However, the report does not take into account, private STP’s in India.
Classification of sewage treatment facilities
There are more than 500 sewage treatment facilities in operation in India, but most of them are insufficient to treat wastewater. There are some issues with STP, and if the issues are not addressed together, the gap between the amount of wastewater produced and treated water will continue to widen.
A better future for Sewage Treatment Plants?
The construction of more than 100 sewage treatment facilities planned over 2011-14 shows that the federal government benefits not only in eliminating open defecation, but also in addressing the difficult problems of wastewater treatment.
The proposed new sewage treatment plant advertises modern equipment, already equipped with a structured finance model that secures energy supply from biogas or methane and provides the basis for smooth initiation and continuation of treatment operations. Reducing the financial burden of individual facilities has been a common approach for building STP over the last five to six years.
Land acquisition, especially issues with federal-approved projects, and direct drainage of wastewater to STP remain a concern. For civil engineering facilities, directing sewage to STP is a major challenge, especially in urban areas where drainage plans are decades old.
Despite these issues, the construction of STP was the subject of several government programs such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, NamamiGange, and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). It is expected that STP will be treated more efficiently and scientifically as a large number of STPs will be installed in the next few years and their malfunction will only accelerate the poor condition of India's existing wastewater treatment scenarios.
Condition of STPs in Tier 2 and 3 Cities
Small and medium-sized cities in India need attention and funding for the best possible urban hygiene system. However, using nullahs to configure STP without a sewer connection is not a short-term or long-term solution. Nullah-based STP works well in some Indian states and cities, such as Punjab.
In Punjab, at least some small towns have already built underground sewers to transport and dispose of black water to nearby Nullah. Here, STP’s can be used for treatment.
Limitations of the Nullah-based STP processing approach include-
Climate and available Nullah runoff: Two-thirds of India is semi-dry. In these regions of India, it is difficult to imagine a Nullah-based STP solution if drainage is inadequate for 6-8 months a year. Thus it is necessary for our Government to raise much awareness and install STP’s in every nook of the country to prevent diseases.
The 2021 report of CPCB shows that a lot of STPs are planned for tier 2 and tier 3 cities which was not planned earlier. Also the capacity of STPs is increased to 4472 MLD. Furthermore 1549 MLD capacity STPs are planned.
Also India is moving towards Sewage treatment in its small cities and in big cities as well as Government is trying to regenerate energy from these plants like the one in SukhdevVihar’s Waste to Energy Plant in South Delhi. India’s largest STP is coming up at Okhla with the capacity to treat 56.4 crore litres per day.
So, STP will become moresuccessful in India if we maintain this momentum in planning, maintenance and execution of STPs.