Sewage Management of Nagpur: The story & the sub-stories

MSPGCL (Maharashtra State Power Generation Corporation Ltd) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) to supply treated water from municipal sewage plant as the water linkage to meet additional demand of MSPGCL’s proposed expansion plan. MSPGCL has agreed to pay NMC Rs 150 million (15 crores) every year for the next 15 years as royalty fee. MSPGCL has two existing thermal power plants (TPP) near Nagpur City. One of the TPP is 840 MW capacity at Khaperkheda, and the other is of 1100 MW is at Koradi. MSPGCL has planned for three new power units – one at Khaperkheda and two at Koradi, each with 660 MW capacity. MSPGCL has also agreed to construct a new sewage treatment plant with tertiary treatment capability with the capacity to pump the treated water to its thermal power stations.

Koradi Thermal Power Plant

Reusing treated sewage water for thermal power project is a welcome move. However it cannot be seen in isolation. Overall performance of MSPGL and NMC in terms of use of water as a resource and treatment has also to be looked at. Putting together several pieces of information reveals that there is a lot more to this decision. As far as sewage treatment of Nagpur is concerned, NMC is opting for public private participation through sewage treatment. There are layers of irregularities to this decision as well.

Given below is a quick overview of happenings.

MSPGCL opts for treated sewage due to rejection of fresh water allocation for the TPP from Pench River[i]: MSPGCL had the existing allocation from Pench River for 55 Million m3/ year. With the addition of three new power units, MSPGCL was looking for additional water requirement of 58 Mm3/ year starting in 2015, when the new power plants come online.

Following a request from MSPGCL, the Irrigation department of Government of Maharashtra, increased the water allocation from 55 to 67 Mm3/year with a maximum use of 75 Mm3/year within 10 percent variation. However, this was projected to be insufficient for all three units, and there was no additional freshwater allocation available for MSPGCL from any other source.

Idea of using treated sewage water as a water linkage for TPP stemmed from the concept of NEXUS[ii]. NEXUS is a concept and an approach that aims to boost potential to increase overall resource use efficiency and benefits in production and consumption by addressing externalities across sectors.

To resolve the issue of water availability for MSPGCL, USAID, through its project titled Water Energy NEXUS Phase – II (WENEXA – Phase II), initiated a feasibility study that included demand assessment and evaluation of alternate water sources. The study assessed feasibility of use of high quality tertiary treated water from the city of Nagpur’s wastewater plant. WENEXA – Phase II project also implemented a six month long pilot plant to showcase achievable output water quality and get buy-in from both NMC as well as MSPGCL that reuse is effective and feasible.

MoU between MSPGCL and NMC has been signed in year 2009 based on results of this study, pilot plant data and the potential for getting good quality reclaimed water in short period of time. Based on this agreement, NMC being a municipality, approached the central Government and received a grant for a sum of Rs 800 million towards the project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), while the remainder of the cost Rs 1200 million to be borne by MSPGCL.

NMC officials said that STP work had started in March 2012 and was expected to be completed by March 2014. The plant is 50% complete. The pipeline from the STP to the two thermal power units is also half complete. Trial run will take place in 2014 or early 2015[iii].

The centre on December 22, 2006 approved the STP project with installed capacity to treat 135 million liters per day (MLD) sewage water at a cost of Rs 130.11 crore.

Due to delay and other reasons the project’s cost increased to Rs 195 crore during work order stage[iv].

NMC’s monthly progress report on JNNURM projects says 56% of the works have been completed. Expenditure on the project comes to Rs 95.76 crore as of January 31 (2014). The centre approved Rs 26.02 crore, and state had released Rs 10.40 crore as on January 31. NMC and MSPGCL had contributed Rs 50.80 crore.

MSPGCL polluting river Kanhan Here is it relevant to note that MSPGCL is discharging untreated effluent from Khaparkheda and Koradi power plants into Kanhan River containing toxic fly-ash. NMC draws this water at its 240 MLD water treatment plant (WTP) and supplies it to the almost 40% of the city, mostly North and East Nagpur.

Print media report of January 2013[v] states that the discharge spot is near Sillewada village that is located near the 500 MW unit of Khaparkheda plant. Sillewada is not located along any major road and only locals know about its existence. Moreover, the discharge spot has to be reached on foot through bushes.

Map Koradi TPP

The report also states that water of the river is highly polluted with poisonous substances like lead, arsenic, mercury and heavy metals that cause a host of ailments including cancer. MSPGCL uses coal having 50% fly ash against maximum permissible limit of 34%. The electrostatic precipitator and bag filters of Koradi plant are not functioning. MPCB has not taken any action against MSPGCL for blatant violation of norms.

Kanhan River

MSPGCL’s expansion plan for the 36-year-old Koradi plant was given environmental clearance on January 4, 2010[vi] against condition of installing Flue Gas Desulphurisation (FGD). While considering the request of MSPGCL to review the condition regarding installation of FGD system was considered by Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) in its 54th meeting on August 6-7, 2012, the Committee noted that the data submitted by MSPGCL appeared to be inadequate and inconclusive.

The EAC also noted that there were several complaints of fly ash management for Koradi Plant. That a PIL was pending in the Nagpur Bench of the High Court of Bombay was purportedly with respect to hazards of fly ash from power plants run by MSPGCL including the Koradi plant[vii].

NMC plans a barrage at polluted River Kanhan for drinking water supply NMC plans to construct a barrage at the confluence of Kanhan and Kolara rivers[viii]. The project aims to increase water supply from Kanhan water treatment plant, which would benefit East, North and few parts of South Nagpur. NMC had constructed water treatment plant with installed capacity to treat 240 MLD water. However, the plant cannot function to full capacity due to shortage of raw water from Kanhan River.

A proposal has been tabled before the standing committee seeking approval for Rs 1.82 crore for the construction of barrage[ix]. The standing committee was set to give its nod in the meeting organized on July 14, 2014.

Sewage treatment for Nagpur The city of Nagpur is generating over 450 MLD sewage daily of which NMC is presently treating only 80 MLD[x]. (Details of water supply and sources of water provided in Annexure I)

NMC is operating sewage treatment plant (STP) with an installed capacity of 100 MLD at Bhandewadi and treats 80 MLD water at the STP since 2001. The total cost of treating water comes to around Rs 3 crore per year. In these ten years, NMC has let treated sewage water flow in untreated sewage water of Nag River. Remaining untreated sewage flows into the Nag, Pilli and Pora rivers. The untreated sewage from Nag River flows into Kanhan river, then Wainganga river and finally into Gosikhurd dam.

Bhandewadi Sewage Treatment Plant

NMC has plans to earn additional revenue of Rs 25-30 crore per year from treated sewage water. Now NMC has decided to enhance STP capacity to 200 MLD on PPP model. The private operator will enhance the plant capacity followed by operation and maintenance on his own. The operator will sell this water to the interested parties like industries).

PPP project for NMC’s own STP started before JNNURM approval On 27 Sep 2013, the NMC standing committee approved a proposal to construct a sewage treatment plant (STP) on public-private partnership (PPP) basis. It issued a work order to a joint venture of private companies -Vishwaraj Infrastructure Limited (VIL), Drake & Scull Water and Power LLC, and Vasundhara Drills and Drainage Private Limited.

The project is a part of the sewage system plan submitted to the central government under JNNURM scheme. Interestingly the work order has been issued even before the plan has received a nod from the centre. The tendering process for this project started in September 2010. However, the JNNURM plan was submitted to the centre only in February 2013[xi]. Also there is a difference of around Rs 400 crore in the operation and maintenance cost of NMC and the operator awarded tender.

Strong political linkages in PPP projects Media reports that Vishwaraj Infrastructure Ltd. is believed to have strong political linkages with the ruling party[xii]. VIL is also involved in the PPP contract for water supply of Nagpur city. Concession agreement for the water supply PPP has also been signed with a consortium of VIL and Veolia Water India Ltd[xiii].

Selective application of NEXUS and PPP for Sewage Treatment On one hand though MSPGCL is taking waste water for water linkage of TPP, on the other hand it is severely polluting Kanhan River. It only shows that concept of NEXUS has been adopted selectively and not holistically. Moreover the trigger for using waste water is actually the rejection of more fresh water allocation from Pench River by WRD. Releasing polluted water to the river is in clear contradiction with the NEXUS concept which talks about catering to the externalities across the sector. Both NMC and MSPGCL have adopted the concept of NEXUS only to ensure monetary gains. The link goes further and the Kanhan River water made toxic by MSPGCL plants is set to be supplied for the people of Nagpur city.

While reuse of treated sewage by thermal power plant is welcome, in this case, it is being done only after the plant failed to get freshwater supply in the first place. The proposal is still a welcome move. However, when we take the full picture into account we see that the same thermal power project is polluting city’s water supply. PPP for sewage treatment seems to be adopted more to serve political links than the needs of the city. The project is being pushed even before it gets requisite sanctions.

We had earlier written about the reality of the 24X7 water supply claims vs reality in the same city of Nagpur. One thing that clearly comes across the two articles is that in India’s Urban Water Sector, as can be seen from Nagpur example, there is no drive to achieve greater democracy, or greater transparency, accountability and participation. Till such inclusive management is achieved, no amount of new ideas, finances, technologies, infrastructure or partnerships is going to help.

Amruta Pradhan

Annexure I

Present water sources for Nagpur Present Annual Raw Water reservation from various sources for city water supply & respective present drawal is as below:


Source: DPR of ‘24×7 Water Supply Project for Nagpur City’
Source Annual Reservation Actual Drawal
Mm3/year MLD Mm3/year MLD
Kanhan River 55.00 150.70 43.80 120.00
Pench Project (Pench Right Bank Canal) 112.00 306.88 143.00 400.00
78.00 213.72
Gorewada Lake 5.80 16 6.80 20.00
Total 250.80 687.30 217.60 540.00


As per billing by Irrigation department to NMC. Losses through Canal seepage in the length of 48.50 Km length of travel is @ 20-25% as per the observation of Water audit & Leak detection Study.


Present Treated Water Supply from Various WTPs is as follows-

Source: DPR of ‘24×7 Water Supply Project for Nagpur City’
WTP Capacity
Kanhan Water Works 120.00 MLD
Pench Phase I 136.00 MLD
Pench Phase II 140.00 MLD
Pench Phase III, Stage I 100.00 MLD to 120.00 MLD
Old Gorewada 16.00   MLD
  1. 00 to 530.00 MLD




[ii] It aims to reduce trade-offs and generate additional benefits to outweigh the transaction costs associated with stronger integration across sectors. NEXUS focuses on cross-sectoral management that boosts overall resource use efficiency. Turning waste and by-products into a resource for other products and services like waste energy integration is one of the most important focus areas.












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