Enabling Circular Economy in Used Water Management in India

Reports
March 12, 2024

Saiba Gupta, Kartikey Chaturvedi, Ayushi Kashyap, and Nitin Bassi

Suggested citation: Overview This study develops and computes a first-of-its-kind municipal index for evaluating the performance of Indian urban local bodies (ULBs) in used water management. ULBs, being the main authorities responsible for managing urban domestic used water, are the focus of the index. Such an evaluation can provide them with information on areas that require improvement and enable them to formulate strategies to mainstream used water treatment and reuse in Indian cities. Untreated used water (domestic sewage) is discharged into rivers and lakes, leading to high levels of pollution, which is especially concentrated in the river stretches passing through urban areas. Used water, with safe treatment and reuse, is a highly valuable resource. CEEW estimates suggest that by 2050, over 96,000 million litres per day of treated used water (TUW) will be available for reuse in India. The objective of this index is to mainstream the reuse of TUW at the ULB level. For this purpose, 503 ULBs from class I (population above 1,00,000) and class II (population of 50,000–99,999) cities of 10 Indian states that have adopted a TUW reuse policy were selected. The states include Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. The ULBs were scored based on an assessment framework developed consisting of 5 themes (Finance, Infrastructure, Efficiency, Data & Information, and Governance) with a total of 25 parameters under them. Based on their composite scores, the ULBs were classified into award categories: Aspiring, Promising, Performing, Leading, and Outstanding, from lowest to highest scores. Key Highlights Over 80 per cent of the ULBs assessed collectively fall under the promising and performing categories (below average to average scores). Surat and Bengaluru top the index. The formulation of dedicated action plans for used water management at the ULB level is a key enabler of their noteworthy performance. Governance and data & information are two key areas that require improvement at the ULB level. None of the ULBs have qualified as outstanding under these two themes. Almost half of the ULBs assessed have made substantial progress under infrastructure, having developed the primary infrastructure required for used water management. However, efficiency parameters such as energy efficiency, used water treatment capacity utilisation, and quality of TUW are yet to be integrated with infrastructure planning. Financial planning and investments in used water management are currently in the nascent stage in 90 per cent of the ULBs assessed. Out of the 10 states assessed, Haryana and Karnataka have secured the top two positions. They have prioritised certain themes, such as infrastructure and efficiency across all ULBs, leading to a high state-wide performance on the index. Western and north-western states (Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat) are leading in used water management, with eastern states (West Bengal and Jharkhand) catching up.


Overview

This study develops and computes a first-of-its-kind municipal index for evaluating the performance of Indian urban local bodies (ULBs) in used water management. ULBs, being the main authorities responsible for managing urban domestic used water, are the focus of the index. Such an evaluation can provide them with information on areas that require improvement and enable them to formulate strategies to mainstream used water treatment and reuse in Indian cities.

Untreated used water (domestic sewage) is discharged into rivers and lakes, leading to high levels of pollution, which is especially concentrated in the river stretches passing through urban areas. Used water, with safe treatment and reuse, is a highly valuable resource. CEEW estimates suggest that by 2050, over 96,000 million litres per day of treated used water (TUW) will be available for reuse in India.

The objective of this index is to mainstream the reuse of TUW at the ULB level. For this purpose, 503 ULBs from class I (population above 1,00,000) and class II (population of 50,000–99,999) cities of 10 Indian states that have adopted a TUW reuse policy were selected. The states include Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. The ULBs were scored based on an assessment framework developed consisting of 5 themes (Finance, Infrastructure, Efficiency, Data & Information, and Governance) with a total of 25 parameters under them. Based on their composite scores, the ULBs were classified into award categories: Aspiring, Promising, Performing, Leading, and Outstanding, from lowest to highest scores.

Key Highlights

  • Over 80 per cent of the ULBs assessed collectively fall under the promising and performing categories (below average to average scores).
  • Surat and Bengaluru top the index. The formulation of dedicated action plans for used water management at the ULB level is a key enabler of their noteworthy performance.
  • Governance and data & information are two key areas that require improvement at the ULB level. None of the ULBs have qualified as outstanding under these two themes.
  • Almost half of the ULBs assessed have made substantial progress under infrastructure, having developed the primary infrastructure required for used water management. However, efficiency parameters such as energy efficiency, used water treatment capacity utilisation, and quality of TUW are yet to be integrated with infrastructure planning.
  • Financial planning and investments in used water management are currently in the nascent stage in 90 per cent of the ULBs assessed.
  • Out of the 10 states assessed, Haryana and Karnataka have secured the top two positions. They have prioritised certain themes, such as infrastructure and efficiency across all ULBs, leading to a high state-wide performance on the index.
  • Western and north-western states (Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat) are leading in used water management, with eastern states (West Bengal and Jharkhand) catching up.