The National Water Mission targets to reduce water consumption by 20% in all sectors by 2030. To achieve this, many policy level initiatives have been taken and higher allocations were made to water based projects in 2017-18 budget.
4 key policy changes in budget
1. Mandate of zero liquid discharge system for some industries,
2. Issuance of the “green order” by the Supreme Court in Feb 2017
3. Reuse of treated water in nearby thermal power plants, and
4. Purchase of recycled water by Indian Railways.
In addition to policy changes and its enforcement, Government (both central and state) has taken measures to invest in infrastructure for water and waste water management. Recently, India collaborated with Israel and Hungary on water management technology and has awarded projects to private sectors for setting up of sewage treatment infrastructure to keep the Ganga clean.
Separately, other stakeholder groups have opined about the impending water crisis. Water and legal experts suggest that the government should have separate land rights from water rights. Earlier in the year, Ganga and its main tributary, the Yamuna, were accorded the status of living human entities with human rights by an Indian High Court.
According to a report of an expert committee for framing India’s future water management policy, industries consuming large amounts of water must calculate and declare their water footprint in their annual reports. They must take steps to progressively bring down this footprint every year, and state this progress in their annual reports. They should, ideally, use only recycled water. Use of groundwater for industrial use must be authorised by government.
A joint report by IIM Udaipur and Futurescape on India’s top companies for Sustainability and CSR 2017 found that 86% manufacturing companies (79% last year) have programmes and targets to reduce water consumption as compared to 52% (47% last year) services companies. Effluent water treatment and water recycling/reuse were the most widely deployed programs as they help reduce fresh water intake.
In-line with Government mandate, the proportion of companies having zero wastewater plants too has gone up in the year, as compared to previous year.
In Services industries, IT, other industrials and Telecom are relatively more active in water management programmes. Infosys has 149 recharge wells and 25 lakes across its campuses and Wipro, as part of the company’s Responsible Water program, aims to create a community centered participatory approach for management of ground water and lakes in the area. This involves developing an understanding of the hydrogeology of the watershed area and specific clusters and community engagement through development of communication materials and advocacy.