Status of water supply, sanitation and solid waste management in urban areas – A research study by CPHEEO (2005)

This study by the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) assesses the status of water supply, sanitation and solid waste management in selected 300 cities and towns of India including all metropolitan cities and selected Class I and Class II urban centres. It estimates the requirement of funds for full coverage of population by these services in the urban areas of the country from 1999 to 2022 (at five yearly intervals). Overall, the study confirms the normal notion that the metropolitan cities are better provided for than the other size class of urban centres.

The coverage of population with basic services is higher for metropolitan cities than for other size class of urban centres. The investment levels are higher in the metropolitan cities due to large concentration of population in them. The situation with respect to wastewater management and solid waste management is much worse in smaller urban centres than in metropolitan cities. Financially also, the metropolitan and larger urban centres fare much better than the smaller ones. However, there are large variations in the status of individual urban centres with respect to these services.

Some recommendations that the study makes are -

Water Supply

  • Problems of intra-city distribution should be taken up immediately by the local authorities to address the problems of water shortage.
  • Steps should be taken to initiate capacity building in urban centres for estimation of UFW. Financial assistance should also be provided to the water supplying agencies to equip them with instruments for estimating UFW.
  • Metering of connections, both for bulk supply and retail distribution, must be encouraged.
  • Tariff is a major concern in the water sector and should be increased at certain given intervals, indexed to inflation and power tariff.
  • In line with the provisions of 74th Constitution Amendment Act, the capacity of local governments should be built to manage water supply systems. 
  • Improving cost recovery should be linked to giving grants. Financial incentives could be given to urban centres showing improved cost recovery. 
  • Private sector participation in this sector should be encouraged, wherever possible. Unbundling of the service would allow private sector to participate in this service and improve efficiency levels.


  • Rehabilitation of sewerage systems must be taken up in all the cities where the sewerage system exists but has become non-functional.
  • Wastewater treatment must be made mandatory for all sizes of urban centres. The smaller urban centres could use less capital-intensive technologies to reduce capital cost as well as maintenance cost of treatment.
  • Pollution of land or water body with untreated wastewater should be made punishable with fine.
  • Recycling/reuse of wastewater must be encouraged.
  • Successful examples of people’s participation in contributing to the cost of construction of sewerage system (e.g. Alandur) must be examined and adopted in other urban centres of the country.

Solid Waste Management

  • Three ‘R’s of solid waste management i.e. reduce, reuse and recycle must be adopted by all urban centres. This will help in reducing the quantum of solid waste that the local governments have to deal with.
  • Efficiency of waste collection must be improved in cities by bringing about the necessary changes in the design of equipment used by sanitary staff, manpower management and planning.
  • Transportation fleet needs to be maintained well and needs to be modernised to improve collection and transportation efficiency.
  • Crude/open dumping of waste must be completely discouraged by encouraging controlled tipping.
  • All urban centres should identify landfill sites that are usable. In order to reduce the quantity of waste that goes to landfill sites, waste treatment such as neighborhood composting and recycling of waste must be encouraged.
  • Separate collection of hospital waste must be ensured in every city and incinerators must be installed to deal with this waste. Landfill sites should apportion an area for the disposal of hazardous waste from hospitals.

Download the report here:


Post By: Amita Bhaduri