SANITATION LAWS IN INDIA: NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT IN SEWAGE MANAGEMENT

INTRODUCTION

In recent times, India has made substantial advancements in the area of sanitation, but the country still faces major difficulties in offering adequate sanitation facilities to its citizens. The Indian government has implemented various policies and laws relating to sanitation, including sewage management. Irrespective of the changes in law made by the government, the state fails to effectively implication for the changes needed in the country. Uncovered Drainage systems or Lack of technological development for drains is one such environmental concern in India.

BACKGROUND

 An urban sewage design is a major issue adversely impacting people, society, and the habitat jeopardizing human existence. A good sewage structure helps avoid flood damage, but then when they have little or no lids, as in open drains, solid and residential wastes gather and end up causing clogs. As a result, they constitute a danger to the inhabitants of the surroundings. Mostly, these instances are found in low- to middle-income countries. One must understand the state’s liability[1] for ineffective drainage channels. Environmental law helps in the refinement of awareness of the function that government plays in protecting the well-being of the country’s citizens.[2] In this research, we will explore sewage sanitation laws in India and analyze their success in dealing with the country’s sanitation barriers.

ROLE OF CONSTITUTION AND PIL

The Indian Constitution sets out guidelines for the protection of the environment and identifies the necessity of safeguarding the environment for societal well-being as well as the longevity of natural resources. Articles (21, 48A, and 51A)[3] of the Indian Constitution address the protection of the environment. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972[4] and the 42nd[5] amendment to the constitution of India subsumed the concept of ‘environment and ecology’ for the very first time through articles [48A and 51A (g)][6] of the constitution. It imposes a legal obligation on the state the development of future environmental policies for the country which involves providing safe water to consume to the public at large, ensuring adequate health care and sanitation, supporting social benefits, and much more.[7]

Public Interest Litigation has also played a significant part in guarding environmental policy in India by helping users to hold governments and other institutions liable for harm caused and seek redressal. Additionally, it limits actions of the government and initiatives which may have detrimental effects on the environment, such as waterways, mines, and other infrastructure improvements.

The National Green Tribunal Act,[8] of India, facilitates environmental protection and conservation cases in India. The Act establishes environmental rules, policies, and regulations.

RIGHT TO HEALTH

The Indian Constitution protects the preservation of the environment and enhancement, including the fundamental right to healthy surroundings. Amidst the truth that the ‘Right to Health’ is not a ‘constitutional right’ per se under Part III[9] of the Indian Constitution, it has been read with the essential Rights of Life and Personal Liberty[10]. In 2019, it was argued at large that the Right to Health to be identified as a fundamental human right and allow the subject of health to be moved from the ‘State list’ to the ‘Concurrent list’.[11]

OVERVIEW OF DRAINAGE DESIGN IN INDIA AND THE USA

Both India and the United States plan drainage channels centered on hydrology and hydraulics[12], yet there is a certain distinction in devices and methods. Existing drainage frameworks in India involve open ditches, ponds, and narrow infiltration processes, though technological advances like impervious surfaces and green roofs are becoming increasingly prevalent.

The monsoon weather patterns tend to bring heavy downpours and flash floods to several regions throughout India and an increased population density, and urban growth, have a significant effect on the development of drainage structures in India.[13]

In contrast, drainage formations in the United States[14] are commonly aimed at handling both stormwater and effluent, with a stronger emphasis on diagnosis and environmental damage prevention. In the United States, the use of centrally controlled treatment plants, underground pipes, and huge detention and preservation basins is more prevalent than in India. Moreover, it is more law-abiding complying with both state and federal requirements regarding water quality as well as ecological safety.

 Climate change, population growth, and environmental damage are all major challenges in managing sewage and stormwater runoff both in India and the United States. Even so, variations in advanced technologies and methods reflect each country’s geographical, weather patterns, and socioeconomic conditions.[15]

SANITATION LAWS RELATING TO SEWAGE IN INDIA

  • The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act[16] is the foremost statute guiding sewage management in India. This legislation states water pollution prevention and control, and it enables the state’s pollution control boards to regulate and monitor sewage discharge from industry sectors and municipal governments.
  • The Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organization (CPHEEO) was established in 1974[17]. India had also released principles for the design, construction, and upkeep of sewage treatment plants. These initiatives provide technical requirements for sewage treatment as well as the effluent collection of waste.
  • The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan,[18] which was launched in 2014, is the Indian government’s centrally sponsored scheme designed to accomplish worldwide sanitation coverage and eradicate open defecation in the home nation. As part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the government has also launched the Namami Gange project[19], which also aims to clean and help revive the Ganga River, one of the most polluted rivers.

CHALLENGES FOR IMPLEMENTATION

India faces major sanitation difficulties[20], especially when it comes to sewage management. Listed below are a few major issues.

  1. Increase in an urban population: With a population of over 1.3 billion people, India stands as one of the world’s most populous countries. Steadily increasing sewage generation has contributed to urban expansion, especially in densely populated urban areas.
  2. Insufficient funds for infrastructure growth and upkeep: Construction and upkeep of waste disposal facilities are expensive, and also many municipal governments and local governments find it difficult to safeguard sufficient funding to invest in such establishments.
  3. Limited law-making body: In India, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)[21] and the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs)[22] are authorized of administering water contamination laws and regulations, but their capacity is confined, especially on a local level.
  4. Climate change and lack of public knowledge: Increased sea levels and severe droughts cause sewage to runoff and cause pollution in bodies of water while increasing temperatures boost water intake and sewage formation.

CONCLUSION

In India, there are various alternatives for sewage management improvement. Increased spending and investment in sewage management are one of the greatest opportunities. Other opportunities also include the advancement of novel sewage treatment technologies, the growth of waste disposal ability, and the significance of general populace knowledge and involvement in wastewater management. To sum up, wastewater management in the country is a complex problem that requires a multidimensional approach. In India, the current legislation for sewage management is reasonable, but challenges persist. To deal with these problems, it is essential to boost sewage management investment and funding, develop technological advances, broaden waste disposal capacity, and enhance the public’s knowledge and involvement.

Author(s) Name: Shuily Biswas (JECRC University, Rajasthan)

References:

[1] Steven Frederic Lachman, ‘Should Municipalities Be Liable for Development-Related Flooding’ (2001) 41 (4) Natural Resources  Journal 947 < https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1594&context=nrj > accessed on 7 April 2023

[2] Justice U.C. Srivastava, ‘Tortious liability of state under the constitution’ (1997) 1 Institutes journal < https://ijtr.nic.in/articles/art68.pdf > accessed on 1 April 2023

[3] Constitution of India 1950, articles 21, 48A, 51A

[4] Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 1973

[5] The Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976

[6] Constitution of India 1950, articles 48A,  51 A(g)

[7] The Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act 1976, art 48A and 51A(g)  (india.gov.in) < https://www.india.gov.in/my-government/constitution-india/amendments/constitution-india-forty-second-amendment-act-1976#:~:text=Protection%20and%20improvement%20of%20environment,life%20of%20the%20country.%22.> last accessed on 27 April, 2023

[8] National Green Tribunal Act, 2010

[9] Constitution of India 1950, pt. III

[10] Constitution of India 1950, at 21

[11] NK Singh, ‘Move health to Concurrent list’ ( The Hindu, March 26, 2021 ) <https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/move-health-to-concurrent-list/article34172894.ece> accessed on 27 April, 2023

[12] US Department of Commerce, ‘Water Supply and Drainage in Buildings’ (August 1979) National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 553, page v para 4 < https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/GOVPUB-C13-9f0048221f7c7a0e0a272f3d79c30c24/pdf/GOVPUB-C13-9f0048221f7c7a0e0a272f3d79c30c24.pdf > accessed on 7 April 2023

[13] Ajit Tyagi, G.C. Asnani, U. S. De, H. R. Hatwar, A. B. Mazumdar, ‘Monsoon Monograph’ ( 2012)

Government of India ministry of earth sciences India meteorological department Volume II, chapter3 page 78 para 1 < https://imetsociety.org/wp-content/pdf/docs/MM2.pdf> accessed on 27 April 2023

[14] West Virginia Conservation Agency, <https://www.wvca.us/envirothon/pdf/Drainage%20Patterns.pdf> accessed on 27 April, 2023

[15] ‘Hydraulics and Pneumatics’ (Industrial Quick Search 2023) <www.iqsdirectory.com/articles/hydraulics/difference-between-hydraulics-and-pneumatics.html>  accessed on  7 April 2023

[16] Water Prevention and Control of pollution act, 1974

[17] Water Act, 1974

[18] Swachh Bharat Mission, 2 October 2014

[19] Namami Gange Programme, National Mission for Clean Ganga (September 2020) <https://nmcg.nic.in/NamamiGanga.aspx > accessed on 27 November, 2023

[20] Sujith Koonan, ‘Right to Sanitation in India: Nature and Scope’ (K. J. Joy and Sarita Bhagat) International Environmental Law Research Centre, 11 (1) < https://www.ielrc.org/content/a1608.pdf > accessed on 7 April 2023.

[21] Water Act, 1974

[22] The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.