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NGT imposes logical changes to Sewage Discharge Standards

30th April 2019:

With reference to the Original Application (OA) No. 1069/2018 filed by Nitin Shankar Deshpande against Union of India and Others, the Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) have said that there is no justification for diluted standards for areas other than Mega and Metropolitan Cities. The Principal Bench was comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Chair Person, Justice K. Ramakrishnan, JM and Dr, Nagin Nanda, Expert Member. 

The NGT order concluded that "Accordingly, we accept the report of the Expert Committee with the modification that the standards recommended for Mega and Metropolitan Cities will also apply to rest of the country. We also direct that the standards will apply not only for new STPs but also for existing/under construction STPs without any delay and giving of seven years time stands disapproved. The NGT bench also said that "the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) may issue an appropriate Notification in the matter  within one month from today i.e. 30th April 2019."

Therefore, the effluent discharge standards for STPs as laid down vide Notification dated 13.10.2017 by way of Environment (Protection) Amendment Rules, 2017 against Serial No. 105 of Schedule-I to the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 - now changed as follows:

S. No.
(Applicable to all mode of disposal)
Bio-Chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
10 mg/L
Total Suspended Solids (TSS)
20 mg/L
Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD)
50 mg/L
Nitrogen – Total
10 mg/L
Phosphorous – Total (For discharge into Ponds and Lakes)
1.0 mg/L
Faecal Coliform (FC)
100 MPN/100ml (Desirable)
230 MPN/100ml (Permissible)

However, according to the pre 30th April 2019 article, the following contents were discussed.
Commonly tested parameters to characterize Treated Sewage are, pH, Total Suspended Solids, BOD, COD and Oil & Grease. When we take a reference of the “Manual on norms and standards for environment clearance of large construction projects” published by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Govt. of India, the test parameters become wider

Section 2.3.5 under the heading of Water quality standards for irrigation states that the BIS standards for irrigation are indicated in Table 2.7 of the above-cited publication, which is important to conform to the prescribed standards while using water from various sources such as groundwatermunicipal water, rainwater or treated water.

Standards for irrigation water quality as given under Table 2.7 requires characteristics of pH, Conductivity, TDS, Chloride as Cl-, Sulphate as SO4-2 and Boron as B.

Further, in the same Manual, under section 2.3.2 under the heading “Water quality”, specifies standards for different classes of inland waters for different applications (please refer Table 2.3), which should be followed by projects. Under the table 2.3, column E water quality specifications for Irrigation and industrial cooling have been given; where the parameters required are pH, Conductivity, TDS, Chloride as Cl-, Sulphate as SO4-2, Boron as B and Sodium Absorption Ratio (SAR).

It is also understood that most of the projects have been using treated wastewater for watering greenbelt and cooling water make-up. 

In such case, it seems to be a genuine interpretation that the following parameters should be essentially required for testing and analysis in case of sewage and trade effluent, which are used in watering greenbelt and cooling water make-up: -

  1. pH
  2. Conductivity 
  3. TDS
  4. TSS (as required in consent management)
  5. BOD3 at 27°C (as required in consent management)
  6. COD (as required in consent management)
  7. Oil & Grease (as required in consent management)
  8. Chloride as Cl-
  9. Sulphate as SO4-2
  10. Boron as B
  11. Sodium Absorption Ratio (SAR)

And the above seems to be applicable to all projects irrespective of type such industry, construction, hotel etc. and also whether it falls under EIA Notification or not.

Your valued comments, suggestion are welcome.

Sanjaya Kumar Mishra


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