After setting sanitation goals for the country, Indore, which has been bagging the cleanest city tag for four years in succession, has set an exemplary standard for wastewater management. Even as most cities are still struggling to effectively tackle the eyesores of mounds of dirt and waste dotting them, Indore seems to have commendably streamlined its sanitation strategy as a sustainable one. Replicating this template, the city residents and administrators took on the new challenge with equal gusto and went all guns blazing to become the nation's first 'water plus' city. Earning this credit under Swachh Survekshan-2021 is not a cakewalk, for it entails acing a strict set of criteria. But Indore has showed that it is doable.
The other cities should learn a trick or two from Indore. Single-minded and determined efforts to ensure that no dirty or untreated wastewater escapes into any drain, nullah or river as well as the reuse of greywater hold the key. It calls for the identification of polluting industries and homes/shanties spilling waste directly into water bodies. Having connected the outfalls of the dwellers living around nullahs and drains (around 5,000) with drainage pipes and ensuring that the effluents of commercial establishments (around 2,000) are treated properly before release, Indore is on the much-needed path of freeing its rivers from pollution. Reusing 30 per cent of wastewater in gardening or construction activities and having clean public toilets linked with sewers are its other laudable achievements.
Only if every town and city emulates Indore will India truly head towards bettering its water quality and, consequently, the health of its citizens. With an estimated 70 per cent of freshwater sources contaminated and unpotable, it shamefully ranks among the bottom three of 122 countries in this respect. Only a drastic reduction in the almost 40 million litres of largely untreated wastewater entering the water bodies daily can help reverse the damage. Every penny of the crores of rupees sanctioned to mitigate the problem must be accounted for and decision-makers held responsible for lapses in output. We cannot afford any more slip-ups.
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