Techno-economical methods for dilution and tertiary treatment of sewage are an inevitability to achieve the new and more stringent quality norms, writes PK Jain.In India, increasing water consumption is only complicated by the high level of unaccounted-for water (UFW). Keeping this in mind, the government has taken several initiatives. The most ambitious plan for abatement of pollution of water was launched on 14 June 1985 by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Ganga Action Plan is a holistic approach in a planned way in the direction of abatement of pollution and in turn to make our water bodies fit as a source of drinking water. Ganga Action Plan was followed by Yamuna Action Plan and now National River Conservation Plan.At the time of launch, the main objective of Ganga Action Plan was to improve the water quality of Ganga to acceptable standards by preventing the pollution load reaching the river. However, as decided in a meeting of the Monitoring Committee in June 1987 under the Chairmanship of MGK Menon, then Member, Planning Commission, the objective of Ganga Action Plan was recast as restoring the river water quality to the ‘bathing class’ standard, ie, to have Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) less than 3 mg/l, dissolved oxygen content of minimum 5 mg/l, total coliform of 10,000 MPN/100 ml and faecal coliform of 2,500 MPN/100 ml.With the launch of Ganga Action Plan, a holistic approach started in a planned way in the direction of abatement of pollution and in turn to make our water bodies fit as a source of drinking water. Ganga Action Plan was followed by Yamuna Action Plan and now National River Conservation Plan. The pollution abatement works under NRCP presently cover identified polluted stretches of 39 major rivers in 185 towns spread over 20 states in the country.Integration of water+sewerage goalsThus, integrated planning for water and sewerage system is a necessity for sustenance of life, good health and economic development. Water supply and sanitation is a state responsibility under the Indian Constitution. States may give this responsibility to the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) in rural areas or municipalities in urban areas, called Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). The clients mostly ULBs, State Water Boards and such other agencies have to appreciate the objectives of River Conservation Plan. To ensure this, competent executing agencies are entrusted with implementation of the projects in a time-bound manner so as to avoid time and cost overruns.At present, states generally plan, design and execute water supply schemes (and often operate them) through their state departments (of Public Health Engineering or Rural Development Engineering) or State Water Boards.The Central Government assists the states by giving financial support for the centrally sponsored schemes. In order that the schemes are prepared adopting a uniformity of approach, the Ministry of Urban Development has issued a manual on water supply and treatment and manual of sewerage and sewage treatment. These manuals serve as guides for planning and design of water supply systems both for urban and rural population and for sewerage and storm water drainage systems for the urban areas.The Ministry of Environment & Forests has come out with “guidelines for preparation of project reports under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) and National Ganga River Basin Authority in December 2010 for abatement of pollution of rivers.”Similarly, guidelines have also been issued under National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) for conservation of lakes.The need of the hour is to encourage participation of both private and public sector in planning, development and management of water resources projects with a view to introduce innovative ideas, generate financial resources, and bring in better management practices.