Mumbai, Maharashtra [India] : Rising urban population and growing industrialisation have taken a toll on water resources in India and rivers once worshipped have turned into sewage canals. The Urban Water Cycle and depleting water resources have called for an integrated approach comprising of Water Supply and Sewage Treatment with Reuse as the only solution to this looming crisis in India. In fact, 15,000 Million Litres of Municipal and Industrial Waste are released into the holy Ganga river every day and other rivers across the country are facing the same fate. Vishvaraj Environment Pvt Ltd has created a record of sorts by treating sewage water and reusing it in in record time in partnership with Nagpur Municipal Corporation during Covid period. The Nagpur Reuse Project, a PPP model has now become India’s largest waste water project as it involved collection of 200 MLD of sewage from rivers and augmenting a 100 MLD STP to 200 MLD with Reuse of treated water as final goal.

Nagpur, a bustling city with a 27-lakh population was consuming 700 MLD of fresh water daily roughly 80% translating to ~550 MLD converted in sewage. The only solution to this issue was treating sewage and REUSING it. Nagpur’s sewage flowed through three rivers cum drains viz. Pivali, Pohra and Nag. This polluted the famous Gosikhurd Dam, a source of fresh water and irrigation. The Hon’ble High Court on a petition ordered action to bridge the gap of sewage generation and treatment. For Nagpur Municipal Corporation, it was financially impossible to meet this requirement and hence took a PPP route focusing on Reuse of the treated sewage water.

Vishvaraj Environment Pvt. Ltd. was selected through a competitive bidding process for 30 years. Entire project was built though 100% private investment making it the largest and the first STP on PPP model. The real innovation was Reuse of this sewage treated water by the industry. MAHAGENCO, the state power generation utility agreed to using treated sewage at its two power plants.

Alongside a path-breaking policy by Ministry of Power made it mandatory for power plants across India to use treated sewage water, if available within a 50 km radius. The cost was allowed as a pass-through tariff by power plants making it financially sustainable.

Work on a 200 MLD STP and Reuse phase commenced in June 2018, with MahaGenCo going to use 190 MLD for its Khaparkheda and Koradi plants. The challenge involved laying a 1,500 mm dia pipeline through dense urban areas and crossing railway lines at six locations.  The project was completed 9 months ahead of its designated construction period of two years that too in the peak pandemic situation.

Mr. Arun Lakhani, CMD, Vishvaraj Environment expressed his views on the Reuse philosophy saying, “Water Sustainability is a term which should remind us all, how inadequately we are coping with these subjects. This is slowly becoming critical for humanity. The Nagpur Reuse Project was conceptualized keeping reuse as a central theme. The potential for reuse at Thermal Power Plants is 8 billion litres per day initially. Indian cities are growing rapidly and water supply to the cities already scarce. The reuse initiative would release fresh water for 8 crore people. Our cities will have to look for the newer avenues for water security and Nagpur reuse model can act as a torch bearer for the cities.”

The project proved to be a winner for everyone – municipality got a facility, city got its

future fresh water needs taken care off for 35 years and the power plants secured water supply. Citizens benefitted as sewage is treated and fresh water freed up.

For the remarkable execution of this path-breaking project, Vishvaraj Environment bagged the first prize at the FICCI water award 2020 held virtually on 16 February 2021.