Work Overview: River Pollution

With growing urbanisation and industralisation India faces the challenge of providing clean and safe drinking water to all citizens. In the name of economic growth most rivers and streams are turning into sewers. As more and more rivers are getting polluted, the municipalities are finding it difficult to treat river water to safe levels and supply it to citizens.

Policies and programmes for pollution control look at water use, waste generation and pollution in isolation and this piecemeal approach towards river cleaning based on creating expensive hardware for waste collection and treatment has not worked. The rivers run dirty despite huge investments. The fight against pollution must also become a people’s movement, as the state has been unable to control water pollution in the last 60 years.  

CSE’s river pollution programme aims to re-establish the link between society and water -- river, excreta and pollution. It is underlined by the need for a holistic management of river pollution that takes into consideration urban planning for sewage management. CSE advocates decentralised sewage treatment systems so that wastewater is treated locally and can be reused. 

CSE produced the book, Sewage Canal that highlights the problem of river pollution, by taking the case of the Yamuna river. The campaign following the release of the book served to create public awareness on the need for a participatory and holistic management of rivers that lays emphasis on quantity of river waters as much as on quality. Advocating for empowering communities to fight rivr pollution, CSE works with communities educating them on principles of river water quality and monitoring methods. 

To reduce the pollution load of rivers, CSE has been advocating decentralised wastewater treatment options that can be undertaken by institutions and individuals. As part of the effort to popularise this new paradigm, CSE conducts a variety of training programmes and builds demonstration projects.