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In Search of Sustainable Development:Musi`green belt’ blues మార్చి 14, 2007

Posted by Telangana Media in Telangana Articles.

Dr. R. V. Ramana Murthy

Dr. K. Muthyam Reddy 

Sustainable Development:

      The post-War optimism on unhindered economic growth was challenged by the report published by Club of Rome in 1972, written by Meadow et al, titled Limits to Growth, which held that the economic growth could be constrained by the depletion of natural resources. But the experience of next two decades proved that not only such Malthusian fears are farfetched, the economic system has demonstrated its ability to conserve the resource-use by raising its efficiency and also to adapt itself to changing conditions. However, by mid eighties, it is realised that, if not the resource depletion, it is the ability of ecological system to absorb the hazardous waste left over by the developmental activity, that is going to pose a formidable limit to the economic growth. The World commission’s report on Environment and Development, known as Brundtland Commission report (1987), titled Our common Future, thus defined the concept of sustainable development as `to ensure that development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The ecological system is not only the source for natural resources, but a repository of wastes generated by human activity. The rate at which ecological damage is wrought by the modern development has proved that not only the benefits of development will be neutralised, but also it can inflict a lasting damage deeper enough that it may not be restored in the near future. The ozone layer depletion, global warming, and raising sea levels are the visible symptoms of the gathering crisis  [Hodge (1995)]1. Unless a conscious and well planned sustainable development strategy is adopted, the fruits of urban industrial model of development can only be ephemeral.

Waste Discharge: Equity and Sustainability

      The development model based on urbanisation and industrialisation is well known to generate the externality of pollution in sewerages and effluent discharges. The urban sewerage contains not only the biodegradable materials but also toxic substances. The traditional treatment facilities while can treat the former; cannot do the same with the latter. The industries too discharge mostly untreated effluents in the near by streams. This externality is, by now, widely theorised as a consequence of `market failure’. Among the strategies of internalisation of the externality, the prominent ones are regulatory mechanisms, legal framework and market based instruments.

      The hegemony of urban in developmental process is commonly manifest in more than several ways in terms of resource allocation. In case of water use, it creates two forms of inequity.  First, it prioritises allocation of water resources to itself by denying competing users in rural areas. The second inequity is wastewater discharge into the downstream, often untreated. While it may provide short-term benefits the downstream users to the extent of irrigational purposes, it can seriously threaten the human and aquatic life due to pollution in surface and groundwater. Thus


      The practices of untreated discharges by urban sewerage authorities and effluent discharges poses a major challenge for downstream recipients. When the sewerage discharges are properly treated, they create tremendous irrigational opportunities of agricultural growth. However, when  

The developmental model of urban industrialisation, in particular in developing countries,  


Research Problem : Musi River Pollution

      Musi river, that flows adjacent to Hyderabad , has an upstream flow of 70km before it enters Hyderabad and downstream flow of 186 km to ultimately join Krishna river. The river is clean when it enters Hyderabad, becomes the dirtiest and toxic as soon it leaves it. The river is joined by several streams from north-west. The river water is completely stopped 20 km above with anicuts and the water is used for drinking water purpose in the city. However, the city’s sewers join the river to make it one of the perennial rivers in the downstream of the city. The problem starts exactly here. The city’s sewerage water meters about 280 million litres per day (mld). There is a make believe sewerage treatment plant at the end of the city at Amberpet, that leaves 95 percent of sewerage untreated as it has no capacity to treat. In addition, there is a pipe line from Jeedimetla industrial estate that carries 4.5 MLD pf untreated chemical effluents to join Musi. The city’s sewer contains suspended solids, plastics, metals, alkalilines, acids, chemical effluents situated within the city like, chromium hexane from tanneries, cyanide and cadmium from goldsmiths and silver bromide photo studios, oil and grease from automobiles, lead from batteries, organic waste etc. Besides these the industrial chemical effluents include metals, inorganic and organic compounds of several varieties. All these have been flowing into Musi for the past two decades and more.  

   The pilot surveys are conducted by us in the month of Nov 2002 and some secondary data collected on agriculture, and water pollution parameters. We have contacted A.P. Pollution Control Board, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Team Laboratories, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Directorate of Economics and Statistics, A.P. Agricultural University and research scholars from environmental sciences in Osmania University working on Musi rivers pollution. We are in process of obtaining substantial data from these agencies on water pollution parameters, nature of effluents, impact on human and animal health, and agriculture. Some of the information is given in the tables in the report.

Industrial Development around Hyderabad and Growth of Pollution

      The initiatives taken by the respective governments of state as well as central led to a significant the industrial development. Even though there are other cities such as Vishakhapatnam, which have port facilities, Hyderabad attracted lot of Marwadi (a trading community from the state of Rajasthan) capital. The late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi contested from Medak district; it was because of her promotional efforts to the constituency, the industrial development in Medak district adjacent to Hyderabad is said to have fostered. Including the old industrial estates that came during the erstwhile Nizam rule, there are at least 14 industrial estates around such as Katedan, Sanath Nagar, Balanagar, Jeedimetla, Bollaram, Patancheru, Nacharam, Rajendranagar, Azamabad, Mushirabad, LB Nagar, Cherlapally, Moula Ali and Mallpur (see table no.2).   The industries include chemicals, pharmaceutical, textiles, metal works, bus bodybuilding, machine tools, forgings, heavy engineering, aeronautics, and defence and consumer products. There is a significant share of public sector units among these, central PSUs such as Bharat Heavy Engineering Ltd (BHEL), Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL), HMT, Praga Tools, BDL, and several State PSUs, half of them however on the verge of closures. There are thousands of private industrial units that occupy major portion of recent phase of industrial units in small, medium as well as large-scale levels. Pharmaceutical and Chemical units occupy central to these that include internationally acclaimed ones such as Dr. Reddy’s, B.E, Glaxo, etc. There was a major migration of pharmaceutical industry from Surath to Hyderabad during late eighties and nineties. The liberal tax policies, subsidies and other facilities provided by the state government has encouraged the steady growth of hundreds of private industrial units around 25 km radius of Hyderabad district. Among these pharmaceuticals, chemicals, paints, and textiles release most formidable effluents into the near by streams that find their way into the Musi river. The effluents released by the industrial units in Jeedimetla, Nacharam, Katedan, and L.B.Nagar join Musi, while some of others move towards Godavari river basin. 

      Table No. 1. Industrial Units, Investment and Employment


              Around Hyderabad


            Location &


          No. of  Units Investment

          (Rs. Millions)



                 Source: Commissioner of Industries, Hyderabad, 1999.

Studies on Industrial Pollution around Hyderabad

      There were also several studies conducted to gauge the level of pollution in the industrial estates. For example, the study conducted by IIT/DTE on a water sample from a hand pump in Pocharam village in Patancheru industrial area in Medak district showed that the levels of mercury was 115 times the permissible limit. The study conducted by National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, the villages in and around the same area, the arsenic levels are as high as 700 parts per billion against the permissible level of 10 pbb, recommended by WHO. The study also found that manganese level in the ground water sample from Bandlaguda area was 15 times the permissible level that of Nickel is 5-20 times than the permissible levels, cadmium levels are 12 times higher2.  All tanks in Patancheru are completely polluted and rendered unusable for consumption for any kind of human or animal purpose. The study conducted by Murthy (1997) in Patancheru industrial estate stated that more than 7,000 acres in 10 villages is rendered useless, displaced 5,00,000 people due to water pollution. A study ob Sarangi and Cohen (1995) in Jeedimetla industrial estate, have found that drinking water is contaminated in a radius of 10 km, palm trees are burnt by toxics. The study by NEERI (1991) found that in Patancharu and Bollaram industrial estates, s many as 629 farmers are affected, losing arable land of 1602 hectares in 15 villages, 1323 cattle died and 150 pump sets rusted and the value of the damage is estimated as Rs.5.17 crores in 1991.  An independent study by Vijay (1998) in 9 villeges in Patancheru and Bollaram industrial areas has brought out a range of chemical elements in the solid substances in the water collected from the tanks in the area that included chloride, sulphates, fluorides, nitrates, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, cadmium, nickel besides acidity levels to 840 mg/litre. The health problems that people faced in these regions are stated to be skin allergies, loss of vision, nasal disorders, respiratory diseases, foetal disorders, kidney failures, chemical diarrhoea, stomach cancer, dyspepsia, epilepsy, mental disorders, paraplegia, menstrual disorders, and joint pains [Murthy (1999) p.190].

Regulation of Pollution: a Tale of CETPS

      The pollution around Hyderabad reached to alarming levels as early as early nineties. Since most of the industrial units belong to small-scale units, which cannot afford to treat the chemical effluents, three central common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) were set up in Patancheru, Jeedimetla, and Amberpet. State government also gives some tax reliefs for units that sent their wastes to CETPs as incentives. Yet more than fifty percent of industrial units have not taken membership in CETPs, unwilling to incur any cost to treat their effluents. While the CETPs can only dissolve organic compounds present in the waste, industries send wastes with huge amounts of inorganic substances which beyond the capacity of CETPs to clear. Moreover, besides the members, many of the industries transport the toxic wastes away from their locations and dump them somewhere roadside, which pollute the entire ground waters in the vicinity. Tanker owners are paid Rs.6000 per tanker for doing this act. In many instances, villagers have caught culprits and handed them over to the police. However, it brought little change in the malpractices of the industries. On the other hand, the capacities of CETPs fell way beyond the requirement.  It is often alleged that corrupt enforcement machinery leaves no compulsion to take any stern measures. Also industrialists manage high-level political influences to ward off any action against them by the enforcement authorities.  

      There are several public protests organised by people in the region particularly in Patancheru and Bollaram area. The people have also filed hundred of cases in the local courts against the polluters, which however takes decades to get resolved. While judiciary ahs been quite generous in giving people friendly judgements, polluters manage to litigate in higher courts and drag the issue for decades. In of such cases against polluters of Patancheru industrial area, Supreme Court ordered a huge compensation of Rs.29 crores to10 villages and asked the pollution control board and industries for more concrete steps of pollution abatement or close down, since the concept of common effluent treatment plants have failed miserably. Government of Andhra Pradesh came forward with a proposal that it would build an18-km pipe line from Patacheru industrial area, pump all the `treated industrial waste’ into Musi river. It proposed to build a mega treatment facility consisting of primary, secondary and tertiary treatment plants on Musi, which would also address the long pending problem of pollution in the downstream Musi. It is argued that there is flow of 150 MLD of wastewater into Musi, which can assimlate the discharge of industrial waste. While, the court judgement on the issue is pending, government obtained the acceptance of Central Cabinet for the grant of Rs.349 crores to build the treatment facilities which are scheduled to be completed by 2007.


      The northern streams to the city, as said earlier will join the Hussainsagar Lake, which is now a major tourist attraction. The state government with the collaboration with the Netherlands government set up an effluent treatment plant in the lake in an effort to safe the basic image of lake. As it did not want to allow the effluents to stink the lake, they built a bi-pass pipeline that would take the effluents directly from Bollaram and Jeedimetla industrial areas and to drain them in Musi near Uppal. There is an effluent treatment plant near Uppal, which is an apology for the word effluent treatment. Consequently, the people in the down stream are receiving dangerous toxic chemicals directly from the river. There are at least 30 villages with a population of more than 1,00,000 who are directly affected in this region. The quality of water in Musi is beyond description. The colour of the water is dark tan, resembles coffee decoction, with a one metre high froth. The Musi fills around 35 small tanks and ponds in the down stream. Now all the 25,000 acres of agriculture has come to all most stand still. The yields have fallen by 80 percent. The fish in the ponds are dead. Buffaloes cannot drink water from these tanks. Even those who get into water to wash buffalos get skin allergies. The region has a rich diary industry that supplies milk to Hyderabad city There are no studies so far on what is the quality of milk that comes from the buffaloes that graze on the polluted lands.  The people in these regions suffer from calcium and fluorine effects that result in digestion to arthritic problems. The growing incidence of cancer in Hyderabad city might have been too caused by the high levels of mercury, nickel, cadmium etc. The social impact of the loss of livelihood is much larger as the value of capital assets in the villages has fallen substantially. The younger people migrate heavily to city for jobs, which older people resort to begging. So far there are no studies conducted in this region. Therefore the present study finds befitting to study the impact of Musi pollution on the downstream villages comprehensively.  

      In case of Musi, as mentioned earlier, the industrial toxic waste comes from 35 km away from industrial estates. The victim’s transaction costs in locating the polluters and negotiating are exceedingly high. However, they have legal right to safe and clean environment, an entitlement towards the damage they suffer from the state. Even to negotiate with the state there are substantial transaction costs.  They are constrained by information over the extent of damage, rent-seeking on the part of regulatory authorities. We feel that a study on the damage assessment would reduce some of the information costs and contribute for their collective action for legal and non-legal course of action.

Musi Ayacut: Agriculture and Livelihood

      The downstream villages have an interesting history of irrigation. The people once upon a time enjoyed the Musi water, were denied water from the flood control water bunds in the upstream during 1920-30. The villages lost their irrigation source for four decades. However, since 1960s, city’s drainage waters started flowing into the downstream. As the city grew progressively, the discharge of drainage water along sewer water increased the outreach. People did not mind the untreated drained waters of quality whatsoever, instead started using it for cultivation. The table no 2 shows the massive increase in the irrigated area for agriculture in 23 villages under Musi river. There is a four fold increase in the area under cultivation.  Paddy cultivation dominates the cropping pattern with two crops in an year. In the summer, there is an inter crop, mostly red grams. There is also some cultivation of vegetables. The area is so rich because of the plentiful ness of the water resources. The land values of agricultural lands have gone up from Rs.15,000 in 1981 to Rs.1,50,000 per acre in 2001. The area offers good amount of employment for agricultural labour who migrate in thousands in number from dry regions of Rangareddy and Nalgonda districts. 

            Besides these there is tremendous growth of diary industry in the area. The area being a dry region earlier, with the guidance from agricultural and veterinary departments  and liberal bank credit, diary industry has expanded significantly. The region supplies more than one lakh litres of milk, mostly supplied to the city of Hyderabad. The diary industry is active right from the beginning of the Musi down downstream. In fact, with in the peri-urban basin, when much of the land cultivation was crippled by pollution, slowly the land was converted into high breed grass cultivation on the banks of Musi. The grass is also sold to several diary farms in the city. Besides these we have seen large-scale poultry industry in the area raising chicken and ducks which can also be affected by the air and water pollution. 

         Table No.2. Village-wise Ayacut (irrigated) Area


      Under Musi River in Ragareddy and Nalgonda Districts 

              Name of the               Ayacut No. of Acres

                  Source: Office of Assistant Engineer (Irrigation) Bhongir.

                                                                   Villeges are only downstream of Musi. 

       The villages have traditional occupations of service castes such as washing, pottery, ironsmiths, goldsmiths, weavers, toddy tapping, fishermen, and agricultural labour. The villages have modern occupations like teachers, health workers, pesticide dealers, petty shop keepers etc. The region has the famous handloom industry called Pochampally silk and cotton handlooms. There is quite a big range of population that stands threatened by the problem of pollution. 

      The common folk recall that only when the industrial effluents started coming since 1991, the villages started getting severely affected. Probably, these accounts are innocent of amount of toxics the sewerage itself capable to carry, when released untreated.  The floodwaters in the rainy season are some natural factors that help the natural assimilation process of the river. However, the persistent induction of untreated sewerage and industrial effluents have gone beyond natural assimilation capacity, started threatening the social and ecological life in the downstream villages. The river is polluted till the Musi Project, the final irrigation dam on Musi, 148 km from the city. We in our pilot surveys in villages down and more down the Musi river, we have witnessed the spectacle of pollution. The villages like Peerjadiguda, Edulabad, Pedagudem, Pratap Singaram, Chowdaripalli, Valigonda, and Rampalli have been affected by surface and groundwater pollution. These villages are placed 10-15km from each down the 120 km of Musi river. Each village has an irrigation tank which receives water from Musi. An now after the two decades of pollution each of the tanks have dangerously polluted sludge. 

Levels of Pollutions

      The pollution in the Musi basically pertains to surface and ground water pollution and also possibly soil and air pollution. The commonly used parameters to represent water pollution are acidity levels, total suspended solids (TSS), biological oxygen demand (BOD, chemical oxygen demand (COD), sulphides, nitrates, chlorides, ammonia, various metals (like ferrous, nickel, lead, calcium, potassium, arsenic, chromium, magnesium, manganese, cyanide etc), various organic substances such as phenol compounds, benzene compounds, and organic acids. Besides these, presence of various organisms such as coliform, pathogens are also taken into consideration3. 

      Table No.3. Water Quality in Musi River


      No. Parameters Narayanreddy Katwa Pillaipalli Katwa Valigonda Stadard Normal

      Source: EIA by JNTU (2001), Team Labs and APPCB 

            Our preliminary sources of data convey the seriousness of pollution.  We have taken water quality parameters at four points namely Narayanreddy Katwa, Pillaipally Katwa, and Valigonda lake in Musi which are situated 5 km, 10 km, and 35 km from city respectively [see table no.3]. The water quality parameters show that BOD and COD exceed the standard normal levels of irrigation channel, which can kill fish and other organism. The polluting factors are obviously concentrated in the beginning and are getting diluted in the course of downstream. Yet even the farthest point have high levels of pollution that exceed prescribed levels. The water at Narayan Reddy Katwa looks yellowish green indicating the presence of high degree of chemical effluents besides the sewerage that makes it dark green from inside. The high presence of alkalines owing to detergents and soaps present in drainage water, the five feet froth is seen Edulabad, and villages around Narayan Reddy Katwa, are seen to irrigate grass lands, and paddy cops, vegetable crops, to buffaloes. These are large scale presence of oil and grease and toxic chemicals namely lead, arsenic, chromium, ammonic, phenolic and other organic compounds4.  


       The table no 3 shows that the levels of pollution have gone tremedouly in 2002 compared to 1994. COD and BOD levels have gone up by 4 times. The BOD levels exceed the standard norms by 24 times and COD 150 times. The pH that indicate levels of acidity shows a normal range, however, environmentalist say that it is a misleading parameter that shows neutrality because of alkalines and acids neutralising each other and hence shows normal in the parameters. However, the presence of alkalines and acids definitely shall have their acological impact.

          Table No.4. Water Quality of River Musi

        Distance from Chaderghat Bridge   (Km) PH COD




            Source: Samapth Kumar (1994) and APPCB, 20002 

      1. PH indicates neutrality of water at 7. If crosses 7 land becomes saline (alkaline)

                                    If ph is less than 5.5 lands becomes acidic.

      1. COD indicates Chemical Oxygen Demand, normal range is 4-6.
      2. BOD indicates Biological oxygen Demand, normal range is 2-3.

Figures indicate organic substances only. 

      The people have reported that impact of effluents and sewerage is mixed. The ammonic and nitrogen compounds result in over growth of stem and leaf and under growth of grain. The yields besides being erratic, are steadily falling on average. This perfectly complies with results of several scientific studies that show that increase in ammonic and nitric compounds supply excess nutrients and stimulates photosynthetic activity that results in over growth of plant. The air pollution, owing to SO2, NOx , and ozone concentration can result in fall the yields. However, there are no studies so far on the impact of pollutants on the crops in the area. Our enquiries are in progress with the agricultural scientists on the impact and causes. 

      The fishing activity has severely affected in the area by the pollution. Despite the hazards, local people are still fishing in several tanks and the impact of the fish toxicity is not yet known. Another externality posed by the fishermen are that they disturb the sledge in the tanks in the course of their fishing activity that rake up the toxic materials that often the kill all the fish and besides affecting the crops. The large scale fish kills is a regular phenomenon in the villages. 

            Table no. 5. Surface and Groundwater in Edulabad village


            Water Quality Parameters Surface Water Ground water

                  Source: EIA Team Laboratory 1997 

      Equally serious factor is the pollution of ground water in the villages of downstream [see table no.5]. The water has rendered unfit for cooking and drinking water. The salinity and toxicity has entered the groundwater. Local people reported that they develop stomach upsets and spasms when they drink it. The rice cooked by the water spoils within couple of hours, which can also be due to the degenerated quality of rice grains owing to toxic substances. The villages with in 10 km vicinity are covered by municipal water which comes once every three days. The rest of villages are scarcely covered by safe drinking water, buys water regularly. The area has developed water markets, where suppliers bring waters from 10 km away from the Musi banks and sell at a rate of Rs.2 to Rs.10 depending upon the quality. Each village spends about Rs.20,000 per day on water purchase. The increasing hardness poses different other problems such as increased use of detergents for washing clothes. Besides these, the water rendered unfit for the handloom weavers in Pochampally. They are forced to buy water in large scale, which has put further burden on the already crippled industry of handlooms owing to increased costs. 

Upstream Pollution and downstream travails:  The new insinuations  

      The State Government’s decision to go ahead with the laying of a 18-km-pipeline to carry industrial effluents from Patancheru industrial area to Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) at Amberpet, has raised the hackles of environmentalists who say that it amounts to “merely shifting pollution problem from one area to another.”  Describing the project as “disaster in the pipeline,” they fear that the move will prove calamitous for the villagers downstream of the Musi in Ranga Reddy and Nalgonda districts as the Amberpet STP, having grossly inadequate capacity and lacking facility for treating industrial waste, may merely let out the effluents into the river.  The decision on the pipeline taken by a high-level committee, appointed to oversee implementation of the Supreme Court-approved joint Action Plan relating to pollution problem in Patancheru, has taken the environmentalists by surprise. They question the decision as the stakeholders of villages downstream of the Musi to be immediately affected have been left out without being consulted. They warn that it would be the turn of these hapless villagers, already reeling under pollution, to face a fresh wave yet again with the creation of another Patancheru there.  By projecting the pipeline as the only alternative, an erroneous impression is being created that the effective implementation of various court directives to check pollution in Patancheru industrial belt mean merely diverting the effluents into the Musi through municipal sewerage systems, they have said, and demanded that the pipeline project be reviewed immediately.  The pipeline project to be taken up by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB), with funds provided by industrialists of Patancheru area, was put on hold, for several months now. This was because the former topmost official of the HMWSSB had been strongly opposing it, saying the STP capacity at Amberpet was simply incapable and inadequate. The A P Pollution Control Board and the Central Pollution Control Board, both of which have originally made the suggestion in the Action Plan, had some reservations later, perhaps realising the folly.  But with the Supreme Court recently asking the State Government about implementation of the Action Plan, the pipeline project was pushed through, notwithstanding the consequences. The idea now seems to be to divert the effluents in a pipeline and join it to the `K and S main’ at Kukatpally, from where there is another pipeline that goes upto Amberpet STP.  The project is being thought of at a time when the hydraulic load reduction of waste water by 20 per cent stipulated in the Action Plan has not been achieved by many of the industrial units. On the contrary, the generation of waste water has gone up, as the dilution process of industrial effluents with sewage is being resorted to indiscriminately to conform to concentration standards, much against the court directives.  The Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Jeedimetla has been discharging “treated effluents” into municipal sewers, which are ultimately finding their way into the Musi. Set up for treating 15,000 cubic metres of industrial effluents daily, the CETP at present is functioning much below its capacity, that too by mixing domestic sewage for dilution. Even after this dilution, the effluents being discharged by CETP have `TDS’ levels far in excess of 15,000 stipulated in the Action Plan. The situation is more or less the same in the other CETPs at Patancheru and Bollarum industrial areas. One can imagine the additional load from the new pipeline.  The inadequacy of the Amberpet STP apart, the State of Environment for Hyderabad Urban Agglomeration published by Environmental Protection Training and Research Institute (EPTRI), has mentioned that only less than 30 per cent of the existing sewage generated in the city reached the Amberpet STP. It meant a large quantity of the untreated or under- treated sewage was flowing into the river. And even at a distance of 12 km downstream of this STP, the Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels are very high, indicating the extent of pollution.  In about 20 villages downstream of the Musi, the sources of surface and ground water is totally contaminated by intrusion of the untreated effluents, depriving villagers of even safe drinking water.  Edulabad with a population of about 15,000 is one such village affected by toxic discharges into the river. A large tank, Lakshminarayana Cheruvu, is polluted rendering the 1,500 to 1,800 acres of ayacut useless.  The alternatives, the environmentalists suggest, include segregation and treatment of waste water at the level of the industry, installation of liquid incinerators for achieving zero discharge of high organic wastes and changeover to cleaner waste minimisation technologies and processes cutting down water consumption [The Hindu, Dec 4, 2001 ] 

The Field study and methodology: 

      There are more than 50 villages that are affected in downstream to our knowledge. We propose to take two villages, as a sample, namely Edulabad (located 20 Km from Hyderabad) and Peddagudem (40 Km from the city). The three villages, besides distance being a factor, are prominent for three different sectors such as agriculture, handloom industry and other non-agricultural activities like diary. The study can bring out the impact on various economic activities in the process. The study would have two sets of data from each village. One is at village level, we call it village survey, and second one is household survey. The study would take a study of 30 percent of sample households in each village. The coverage would bring out the extent and nature of problems at different points. The study would cover all castes, all types of traditional and non-traditional occupational households. The information would be procured not only for the present period, but with past information through recall of 10 years. The selection of households will be on the basis of random selection, in each caste and/or class. The study would undertake a scientific study of water quality in the three villages. The village level survey on health aspects is second major thrust of the study. We are going conduct a survey among local doctors in sample villages about pathological nature of diseases in adults and children. We would also survey the veterinary doctors for the information of impact on health of livestock. The information from the respondents would be quantitative (so that monetary valuation is undertaken) and also qualitative data. Finally, we would undertake the study of Amberpet common effluent treatment plant, through Musi flows into the downstream villages. This will be done with the help of technically qualified scientists. The third major thrust of the study is on awareness among local people over effects of pollution,. No-legal and legal remedies, estimation of transaction costs in the different remediation approaches. The monetary assessment of damage suffered by the people is expected play major role in compensation entitlements and legal implications. The methodology of assessment of damage is sought from the environment economics literature [see appendix I]. 

Study Goals

    1. To assess the value of the socio-economic impact of pollution Musi river, particularly to agriculture, livestock, costs of health hazards to the people. (The study would estimate the total economic value of resources and value of the damage by the people).
    2. To examine the implications of legal rules in delivering compensatory justice and economic efficiency.
    3. To examine the role and functioning of regulatory mechanism involved in dealing with Musi pollution.
    4. To bring out with comprehensive analytical framework to deal with the pollution.

Draft Chapter II

Case studies of Impact of Musi River Pollution in Sample Villages of Edulabad and Pedagudem


      The pollution in Musi region has been reported in press first 5 years ago. The popular press carried stories of pollution in drinking water and fish-kills. This was the phase when the villages in the Musi downstream increasingly started using wastewaters from the Musi. The formation of Water Users’ Association and substantial funding for digging canals and de-silting of channels and tanks has ushered a new phase in the irrigational policy in the state that gave local people a more proactive role in improving irrigation systems. In the Musi downstream region, the money was used primarily fo constructing canals from the Musi. Musi River has bunds built on it previously at various points and canals are built from the bunds to connect the tanks in the villages nearby. Now with renewed sources of funds, the canals were extended to villages 50 km down the river and as far as 5 km away from Musi. The wastewater is seen as a bounty hitherto never available. The popular notion was that the wastewater is more nutrient; hence it is suitable for the purpose of cultivation. The villages have almost on war footing dug canals to connect wastewaters to their tanks. Private lift irrigation systems are constructed along the Musi. No one thought of the consequences nor did the authorities, neither the Sewerage Board, nor the Pollution Control Board nor Irrigation Department nor anyone else. No one predicted the larger ramification of importing the wastewaters in terms of impact on fish, other organisms, groundwater, and agriculture. The process of accrual of benefits and costs too had a certain trajectory and sequence. Initially, the villages at the distance of 5 km from the city started using the waters and seen to benefit enormously. Then the villages in the next 10 km started drawing waters so on and so forth. By the time villages at a distance of 25 km were utilising the wastewaters, the region closest to the city started receiving the costs of pollution: the ground water become unfit for drinking, the buffaloes drinking the waters started getting diseases, agricultural land became unfit for growing paddy or vegetable as water became too toxic. However, the region being close to the city started experiencing a rise in real estate activity. Substantial amounts of lands were converted into real estates and housing plots. The pollution of groundwater later slowed the real estate values of the land. The rest of the agricultural lands were shifted for grass cultivation, where so called para-grass – a kind of hi-breed grass is grown. This shift is prompted entirely by the pollution factor. These environmental problems that arose out of untreated sewerage waters started extending slowly to more and more interior villages in the downstream of Musi. The problems became more acute with chemical effluents joining the sewerage. The chemical effluents join Musi at various points coming from several industrial estates. The polluting industries were mainly tanneries, chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and textiles. There are several sources of chemical pollution with in city’s sewerage that involve toxic wastes from goldsmiths, photo studios, automobile service stations, Xerox centres, besides the extensive domestic use of phenol and acids in household units. The growth of city and development intensifies the discharge.  The pollution in the river that is used as an outlet thus progressively received more and more of the toxic substances in the water. The surface water pollution finally polluted the groundwater as well. The drinking water is affected. According to primary information, the number of villages affected by groundwater pollution are 6 villages in Ghatkesar Mandal, 13 villages in Pochampally Mandal, and 12 villages in Valigonda Mandal – a total of 31 villages , spread in two districts namely, Ranga Reddy and Nalgonda! These villages placed wit in a distance of 50 km from the city. A complete survey of all villages would certainly be necessary for better understanding and policy implementation.  

      We have however, selected two villages as case studies to bring out nature of pollution and the consequences. The two villages are Edulabad in Ghatkesar Mandal in Ranga Reddy District, situated 25 km away from the city and Pedagudem in Pochampally Mandal in Nalgonda district. The villages are selected on the basis of existence of pollution , distance from the city, size of the population and extent of agriculture. Though the A.P.Pollution Control Board has been collecting information on water quality parameters since 1998, its coverage was limited. Therefore we needed information on water quality parameters in the current period. We have collected samples at five different points at distance 3, 5, 10, 20, and 35 km from the city along the Musi river, and got them tested at the laboratories of State Pollution Control Board and a private laboratories. The test were undertaken in month of Jan 2003, it took roughly three weeks for the Board  to give us its test results on around 25 parameters.

Pollution in Musi: Water Quality Parameters

      We have presented the water quality parameters obtained from the test results of samples given by at Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board in table no1, and those by Team Laboratory in table no.2. The samples given to the two different laboratory is seek a wider technical opinion. The samples for testing were collected at five points, namely Nallacheruvu, Nararayanrao Katwa, Pratap Singaram, Pillaipally and Pedagudem.  Out of 25 parameters, PCB tests confirmed pollution in 12 parameters out of 25 in all the locations. These include, total dissolved solids, total suspended solids, total solids, alkalinity, biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, nitrates, chlorine, iron, zinc, phosphates, manganese and lead.  The Team lab report, however, did not confirm presence of lead, zinc, and chlorine. But it confirmed the presence of arsenic, which former did not confirm. While, it is a known fact that some variation in results under two different sources may arise due to numerous reasons such as time of testing, temperatures, ingredients in tests etc., however, the significant fact of the matter is that both the reports prima facie evidence of the excessive presence of several pollutants that confirm primary accounts narrated by common people and media reports. The coverage of pollution parameters is unfortunately is quite limited, as they did not include several organic substance such as ammonia, inorganic substances and microorganisms such as  E. Coliform, etc. More wider, systematic, and rigorous testing of toxic substances at regular time periods should be done for unravelling the exact nature of impact of pollution. 

      There are various other research reports that have confirmed the high pollution levels conducted by Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (2002), Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (2001), National Geo-Physical Research Institute (2002), Buechler and Gayathri (2003), besides several doctoral theses done in science departments of Osmania University5. The report mentions that Musi has been a source of drinking water in the downstream villages once upon a time. But since it flows past the city of Hyderabad, banked by rocky terrain for the initial 15 km from the city, it looks like safe valley to discharge wastewaters. The reports take a view that as if the city gets natural rights to discharge its sewers.  

         Table No. 1:   Water Quality Parameters in Musi River in Test No.1

        Water Quality Parameter Nalla


      3 km

      Narayana RaoKatwa 

      5 km



      10 km


      20 km


      35 km


      *Tests conducted 1-2-2003, at APPCB for NALSAR. 

      Table No 2 : Water Quality Parameters in Musi River in Test No.2.

      Water Quality Parameter Nalla


    3 km

    Narayana RaoKatwa

    5 km



    10 km


    20 km


    35 km


      *Tests conducted 28-1-2003, at Team Laboratories for NALSAR. 

      The grass samples grown on the banks on Musi banks have shown high levels of sulphates and chlorides [JNTU Report 2001; p.148]. The soils samples on Musi banks are reported to be containing heavy metals besides sulphates, phosphates, nitrates, chlorides etc. The samples from Nallacheruvu, which receives effluents from Nacharam and Jeedimetla industrial estate, have shown pollution far exceeding the limits.The groundwater sample analysis near Nallachruru, a point where industrial effluents from Nacharm and Jeedimetla join Musi near Uppal is found to contaminated. The TDS levels at Amberpet STP which is at 1000 mg/l jumps to 1900 mg/l by the time Nallachruvu joins Musi at Uppal. This shows that the industrial effluents into Nallcheruvu are much more responsible for the pollution than the untreated sewerage cause. As the JNTU report testifies the fact that the pollution levels have steadily rose compared to 1963, 1976, 1981, 1991 and 1996 due to increase in the volume of domestic sewerage, but the industrial effluents have further contributed to this contamination. 

Case Study of Edulabad

      Edulabad is big village, situated at a distance of 28 km from Hyderabad city in Ghatkesar Mandal. It lies 5 km from Ghatkesar on the country road. The village has a population of 6843, with roughly 1150 households. The village is primarily agricultural village with more than1500 acres of arable land with 1247 acres of ayacut land (official estimate), mostly paddy grown. The village has a high school with an enrolment of 1116 students (644 girls and 572 boys). The village has an ayurvedic primary health centre, and one private medical practitioner and three para-doctors provide allopathic medical services. The nearby primary health centre is in Ghatkesar, which has 70-bed hospital with facilities of attending minor surgeries, maternity, tuberculosis control programme, paediatrics, and out patient wing. The village panchayath provides facilities of supplying potable water, drawn from borewell, to all the households through private taps. The village has a majority population of backward castes constituting 75 percent and 15 percent S.C.s and 10 percent other castes. While majority 45 percent of households are cultivators, rest of th population depend on range of non-agricultural occupations of traditional and non-traditional types such as fishing, agricultural labour, washing, goldsmiths, carpenters, moneylenders, autoriskhaw owners, tent-house owners, shop keepers, and some teachers, bus-conductors and drivers etc. The social characteristics of the village and social opportunities lend interesting explanations about how different sections received benefits and costs unevenly, ways of internalising the costs in coping with the environmental hazards.

Agriculture, Irrigation and Pollution in Edulabad

      Edulabad has the biggest tank in the Ghatkesar Mandal, spread into 643 acres, irrigating 1247 acres of ayacut originally, used for drinking, agriculture and fishing besides washing clothes. The tank, which is almost 3/4th of Hussainsagar’s capacity, was built in 1554 and is known by the name Laxminarayana Cheruvu. The tank’s original source of water was a rivulet, called Erumalli vagu, enters from the northern side that brings water only in the rainy season that too after filling another tank in the upstream called Kummarikunta. The tank irrigates agricultural land to an extent of 1247 acres officially, while irrigates more in practice. Given the large capacity of the tank, there are also a big number of fishermen of 180 households with 680 population who elk out their living by fishing in the tank. The tank has sustained agriculture and fishing activity for centuries. Till a decade ago, lots of picnic goers from Hyderabad, used to visit the place on the weekends, some even use to come for amateur fishing.  

      Ten years ago, in 1992, the village panchayats thought that tank water is able to irrigate limited acreage and that too only for one crop of paddy;  if any feeder channel recharges it, they can have two crops. They lobbied with Zillaparishad and other local bodies to release funds to construct a channel to draw surplus wastewater from Musi river. After successful political lobbying, they got a feeder channel from Musi river that runs through Korremul and Chowdaryguda at cost of Rs.20 lakhs. It was perceived that the sewerage water is highly useful for the agriculture for having the natural nutrients.  

Pollution in Edulabad 

      The pollution in Edulabad is observed to be doing the silent killing of human health while the villagers have the positive perceptions of direct benefits of agricultural use of polluted waters. The pollution in the surface water as stated earlier has reached abominable levels. The dynamic nature of pollution adds to the complexity as the pollution depends on the flow of effluents and the availability of water. The temperature is the second factor that determines the growth of microbials. In the rainy seasons, because of availability of waters, the levels of chemical effluents appear to be low and converse in summer. On other hand, the growth of microbials is more in the cloudy seasons than the shiny summer seasons. The groundwater pollution caused from surface water shows similar trends. We have pollution parameters of the test conducted in the year 2000 for Edulabad. The colour of the water in the tank is yellowish green, which can be due to sewerage and chemical effluents.  The chemical oxygen demand is found to be 860, while it can not exceed 100 mg/litre, biological oxygen demand is 250 mg/litre, most living organism like fish, frogs, snakes, snails etc can not survive when BOD exceeds 5 mg/litre. Its now possible to understand why fish kills are so frequent in Edulabad. The high levels of nitrates, sulphates and phosphates in the surface water lend testimony to impermissible pollution in the Edulabad tank. The high nitrates normally due to faecal matters coexists with coliform that comes from untreated sewerage discharges. Unfortunately, many labs, including pollution control board, do not test presence of coliform. 

      The sustained surface water pollution would naturally cause pollution in the groundwater through percolation. While many suspended solids are filtered in the percolation, many dissolved solids however, reach aquifers. The test reports on water samples at four points of groundwater obtained from borewells are presented in the table. In results indicate high levels of nitrates, sulphates and phosphates that make the water unfit for drinking. Two points of ground water even contain impermissible levels of COD and BOD. Anther dimension to pollution is now that tank is full of horseshoe plant. This is a flotilla that reduce turbidity and enable growth of mosquitoes. The mosquito menace is so high, after evening mosquitoes from the tank swarm all over the village. 

      Table No. 1   Pollution in Surface and Ground Waters of Edulabad


Tank Surface water

Source: Tests conducted for Subhash Youth Association, Edulabad, by Vimta Labs

      Ltd, Cherlapally, Hyd, on 15-5-2000. 


              Table No. 2

          Caste-wise Distribution of Households


              in Edulabad


              Caste No. of


            Source: Village Survey, 2003 


      This canal that brings drainage water from Musi into Edulabad tank, is built with two sub channels one into the village tank and the other as a bypass the tank and feed the paddy fields6. The latter bypass channel takes the runoff back into Musi after irrigating the fields. The feeder channel into the tank makes it possible to store the water besides the bypass channel irrigates the fields. But in reality, the storage function is seen more useful, as the sediments in the wastewater settle down in the tank and relatively better water flows into the fields. The result is that the sedimentation became so dangerous that gaseous emissions from silt have killed all the fauna in the tank, caused by stirrings either by the fishermen or buffaloes. The second function of storage is that it can be regulated to the farmers’ convenience. 

      Table No. 3.Changing Land use Pattern in Edulabad

With Wastewater Agriculture

      Type 1990-91 2001-02

                  Source: Village Survey, 2003. 

                 Table No.4. Cropping Pattern in Edulabad  (Acres)

Year Paddy Horti




Para Grass Total Gross land

            Source: Village Survey, 2003. 

      The irrigational gains out the wastewaters in the village agriculture have realised as they anticipated. The net cultivated land has increased from 750 acres 1991 to 1978 acres in 2001, a 100 percent increase and the gross cultivated area has increased from 1639 acres to 3843 acres (134 percent increase, see table no.2). The dramatic increase in gross cultivated land is due to the double benefit of rise in  the irrigated but also due the availability of water for the second crop.  


            Table No.5  Cultivated Land under


      Paddy among Sample households in Edulabad

        Caste Selected


        Own land


        Own land output Leased



        Leased land


                  Source: Village Survey, 2003. 

Production: Costs and Benefits

      The wastewater irrigation seem to have enabled the farmers to successfully raise paddy for at least two seasons, namely kharif and rabi. We have collected data on land cultivated, production, prices and costs from sample households. The average yield for paddy is found to 35 bags per acre. The gross value of two crops for entire village works out to be Rs.4.718 crores per annum for two crops. The net profits that accrue to farmers is estimated to be around Rs.2.883 crores7. This creates an employment of 5,57,280 man days per annum, which mean on average employment for 3,096 agricultural labour per annum8. Village has 1200 agricultural labourer, shortage of labour naturally warrants migration of labour from outside. Thus single largest count on which the wastewater is sought by these villages is because of the fact that they never had the privilege of water hitherto and the bounty of harvests that has come due to these water values crores of rupees of agricultural surplus. In fact this region does resemble one that lies in one of dry and backward areas, instead looks like a highly irrigated coastal area. For instance, in the rabi season in 2002-03, there is no crop in the entire state, but agriculture in this region is going in great guns as usual. Several sections of people such as agricultural labour and service castes depend on agriculture indirectly like carpenters, blacksmiths, fertiliser dealers, commission agents, millers etc all expressed their contentment due to rise in livelihood, despite the severe problem of pollution in the surface water and groundwater.

Drinking Water

      The first casualty of pollution in the waters is the drinking water. All the borewells, including the panchayat borewell got heavily polluted with high degrees of salinity, change in colour, odour and presence of metals. People started complaining of getting loose motions, headaches, and joint pains. Then the food cooked with the water started rotting within 6-7 hours. Then the panchayath, in 1998 laid another borewell 3 km away from the village. Though this has reduced the severity, compared to earlier, however, after sometime, people face same health problems as earlier. The affordable sections started buying water, as private water suppliers have started selling clean water brough from distant places at a price of Rs.10 per 10 litre can. Since the village is situated 25 km from the Hyderabad city, lots of people go to city due to various reasons such as business connections, jobs etc. They have all taken monthly bus passes and bring water from Uppal area, which is situated on the city outskirts. Every day, the bus that comes in the morning from Edulabad stars with some 100 empty cans and evening bus returns with water filled. Many people in the village, buy water from the private suppliers. However, our sample survey of households brought that 27 percent of households purchase water for drinking purpose. Now the minimum expenditure on drinking water is Rs.300 per month,  bigger households spend even more; while they could get this only at a monthly payment of merely Rs.2 to panchayath! The village as a whole spend roughly Rs 5.33 lakh on purchasing water per annum. The rest of 73 percent in the village are still drinking contaminated water. All households use contaminated water for cooking, bathing, washing purposes.  

Picture No.1. Map of Edulabad Irrigation Feeders from Polluted Musi 

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      Table No. 6. Expenditure and Source of Water in Edulabad

          Caste selected





          Quantity per day

          Annual Expenditure

      Source: Field Survey, 2003.*household average purchase is 20 litre per day; Village annual expenditure on drinking water would be Rs.5,33,333/- 


            Edulabad: Water supply


          Panchayat Tap


          Public Taps Household


          Public Borewells

                  Table No. 7.

      Water Use Pattern and Source in the Edulabad in the sample households




            Households using purchased clean water  
            Households using contaminated bore well water

      Source: Field Survey, 2003.

Fishermen Travails

      The first two years since it was connected to Musi, people did not feel much change. But, since 1995, the villagers noticed discharge of chemical effluents in the waters in abundance. The pollution started killing the fish in every summer. Only rainy season fish were surviving. In the years 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003 fish regularly died completely. The dead fish floated in waters regularly attracting media attention, these photos were published in all newspapers. The fishermen community has made ten representations to the local political representatives like MLA, MP, MPPs and to the Pollution Control Board. NGOs and environmental activists have conducted three major meetings in the village to mobilise public opinion. Nothing much has happened as far as the redressal is concerned. Meanwhile, the large chunk of fisherfolk in the village has lost their livelihood completely. The village has 182 families of traditional fishermen, with a total population of 650 members- an unusually high number for a village. Because of the large capacity of the tank historically, that has been so conducive to grow fish has enabled such large community in the village. Traditionally men and male-children did the hunting, which women use to sell fish in local markets and neighbouring villages. The fishermen community do the nurturing and hunting the fish commonly and have system of sharing the value of hunt on their own traditional rules based on marital status, age and number of dependents etc. The community in this village also used to buy the rights of fishing in several tanks in the downstream villages as far as Musi Project – the large reservoir near Suryapet. The community had 36 catamarans and 180 nets and on average use to catch 3000 to 4000 kilos of fish every wee. The fishing continued for 10 months in every year. The pucca housing in the village for all the fishermen in the village is testimony to the fact that they lived comfortably sometime ago. But now all this is disturbed seriously and almost permanently. The tank is so heavily polluted that successively for five years fish were dead, making annual loss of investment of Rs.1 lakh per annum on the seed. This community loses an annual income of Rs.14.4 lakhs annually, they lost it in the past 5 years. The men folk are seen sitting idle in the houses, youth are playing volleyball or idling in the village. Couple of youth got some work as construction workers, but even that work is not available after the introduction of poclainers in many construction works. The literacy rate is 40 percent that does not help in getting any gainful employment as such; only 5 persons have stable jobs in government and private sector. Presently, the community is living on the labour of women, who still go Hyderabad city, buy fish in the market and go around the villages and sell fish moving in corporation buses. They earn about Rs.50 per day. Apart from this, the reportedly is using borrowed money from the fish merchant, who give a community loan. This loan is said to be to an extent of Rs.25 lakhs in the past 5 years. 


                Table No.8.

          Community Fishing in Edulabad: Catch and Value


        1986-93 1993-96 1996-2002

      *Source: Gangaputra Sangam (Fishermen Cooperative), Edulabad.

            Value is in current prices, fish valued at prevailing price Rs.10 per kg.

             Per Capita Family Income (6666.7) 

Washermen’s Travails 

      There are around 11 washermen families in Edulabad presently. This traditional occupation of washermen entails washing the clothes of all households baring scheduled castes, for return of one bag of rice every year by every farmer. The pollution in the tank has disturbed this relation; as people started getting severe itching after wearing the clothes washed in the village tank. Since, the washermens’ economies of scale lie in pooling all the clothes and washing at one place, the washermen do not find it convenient to wash clothes at individual houses. The village simply stopped giving washing orders to the village washermen. On the top if it, washermen contract skin diseases after getting into the polluted waters of the tank. The washermen, for sustaining their livelihood, are now getting washing orders from the Hyderabad city, where customers are unaware about where the clothes are being washed. However, the washermen get orders through subcontracting from washermen in the city, their incomes have considerably diminished. For instance, for every saree they wash and iron, they receive Rs.3/- which is half the mount of a direct order. There are several transaction costs such as transport costs, waiting costs, extra bleaching agents that are to be used etc. Now they are forced to shift to completely monetised payment system, with costs of living rising disproportionately compared to incomes. The rise in cost of living is on account of expenditure of purchasing drinking water, otherwise on the resulting morbidity. Those who consume the village panchayath supplied water, suffer severe arthritis, so they regularly buy painkillers.

Health Hazards 

      The health hazards of consumptions of groundwater depends on the nature of effluents in the waters. The impact of heavy metals like nickel, lead, iron, etc and organic compounds such as phenols, toluene, benzenes etc result in diseases such as rheumatic arthritis, loss of blood count, cancer, foetal disorders etc9. Diseases like arthritis would immediately surface, while cancerous diseases take much more time. On the other hand, diseases caused by microbials like E.Coliform are gastroenteritis, skin diseases and other diseases due viruses and bacteria like malaria, typhoid, jaundice, etc are immediately known through quick manifestation. While all these are too technical phenomena in nature, which are beyond the scope of the present study, yet the absence of epidemiological studies has induced us to include the questions about types of diseases people (at least one member of the family) have suffered in the last two years in our interview schedule. We have include only those diseases which are directly and remotely related to pollution in water. We have focussed on diseases such as arthritis, gastroenteritis, diarrheoria, malaria, eye irritations and skin diseases. 


            Table No.9. Health Hazards (Edulabad)








      Arthritis Gastro


      Diarrhoeic Skin disease Malaria eye irritations Infant morbidity

Source: Field Study, 2003. Gastro includes food poisoning, severe stomach pain and vomitings; infant morbidity relates to frequent diarrhoeria, indigestion, and fevers. 

      Large number of people have complained about arthritis in Edulabad, as many as 60 percent have complained about acute joint pains. While it is the most common complaint among old people, even young people have reported severe joint pains.  Every person suffering from joint pains are observed to consume painkillers like brufen, niacin, Nice, diclofenac sodium etc everyday. Some patients developed serious side effects of overdoses of pain killers that cause nervousness. Some households said even children are complaining about the same. Second most complaint is about malaria (35 percent), as mosquitoes swarm the village in the nights in all seasons. Many people have reported about recurrent nature of malaria. The third problem reported was about loose motions and severe stomach pain, more frequently in rainy seasons. 56 percent of people have reported various types of skin allergies. Those who get into the village tank, like fishermen and washermen are affected acutely by skin diseases that are diagnosed as Rabson’s disease. This cause severe ulcers on the skin that would become infectious if not treated by strong antibiotics. It partially prevents from attending the regular job work. We have not witnessed nor heard about any cancerous diseases. However, many people were affected by the water pollution during 1996-98 in terms of severe weakness and nervous breakdowns. After changing to purchased clean water, they said to have become normal. 

      We have observed that while one third of  people purchase water, all them still consume polluted groundwater during cooking. Therefore, most of them only partially are protecting themselves. Besides this, two thirds are found to be consuming the polluted groundwater supplied by the panchayath. Complaints of health problems are apparently more and these people are spending money to cure the ill effects of polluted water. The expenditure seem to be more in case of latter, in several households we found that they are spending over Rs. 300 per month on buying painkillers.  We have seen among fishermen household maintaining bundles of pain killers. We spoke to the village para-doctors, who has confirmed that majority of the cases they attend are arthritis.  


      We have observed that livestock in Edulabad are mainly buffaloes kept for diary and also goats/sheep by the traditional caste people. The diary seem be an active industry as elsewhere in the region. The impact of pollution on diary industry is at two levels, first on morbidity of buffaloes, second, the decline of market for the milk in the region. The buffaloes are fed para grass, which is grown in the villages on the banks of Musi in the neighbouring areas. The buffaloes are washed in the village tanks and they drink the polluted water. Several buffaloes owners have reported us about liver fluke attacks, loose motions, fevers etc. Disease immediately affect the milk yields. The buffalo is sold of in the village shanty when frequently fall ill and found unviable. Coming to the second factor, the milk is sold in the Hyderabad city. However, in the past 4 years, thanks to the media reports over increasing environmental pollution in the Musi downstream villages, people are not refusing to buy the milk from this region. The milk vendors nowadays said to sell the cream of the milk, skimmed by machines, the cream is reportedly used in preparing ice creams and in bakeries, and sell the skimmed milk to near by hotels. However, except apprehensions there is no scientific evidence so far produced by any agency. If milk samples are tested positive for containing heavy metals, the diary industry can face rough weather and livelihood of lot of people would be affected. There are more than 1902 buffaloes in the village that gives employment directly 400 workers and 100 more indirectly in terms of marketing.   


      Table No.10Livestock in  Edulabad

          Cattle Sheep/Goats Poultry



      Caste Sample


      Buffaloes Ox/cow Goat/Sheep

                  Source: Field Survey, 2003. 


Caste Sample


Sample population Male Female Adults Childrens


Social Perceptions and Politics amidst Pollution 

      The villagers perceptions on pollution are mixed. They are aware of ill effects of pollution since they directly face, such as the health problems. They have made scores of complaints to political representatives like local M.L.A, M.P. and A.P.Pollution Control Board. Local youth along with persons from the neighbouring villages have formed a struggle committee against Musi pollution. They have conducted three large scale meetings where number of environmental activists and intellectuals were invited to impress the public over the adverse effects of pollution and initiate a movement against it. However, beyond making few more representations, the movement did not go forward much. But whenever, any political representative, like a minister, or district collector or opposition leaders have visited, people vented their anger and made them take a stand on issue. They constantly demanded alternative water supply. After prolonged appeals, the government promised Manjeera water, which is the water supplied to twin cities, a special sump near Korremul and a pipeline was finally built to bring water. However, authorities could release water only once in week and the flow of water is enough only a small percentage of people.  

      A popular misconception that was spread among the farmers is that if they complain too much about pollution, they may stop to Edulabad, since they who voluntarily brought it to the village by constructing a canal from Musi, there is no natural flow of Musi wastewater! So the fear of losing the fortunes from the use of wastewaters made even the influential sections of the village remain silent and not contemplate measures such as filing any legal suits in the courts. As such their awareness about the environmental rights is found to be poor, no one said that they can file a suit in court in course of interview. In fact the village is divided over issue of how much they should complain and agitate over the pollution problem. The reasons are simple, sections that receive benefits and costs in the village are different and pollution impact also vary across them.  For instance, fishermen who are the worst affected by completely being displaced, always made the representatives, but farmers seldom co-operated. Fishermen feel cheated. A year ago they made a resolution in their community meeting and asked the village panchayath to close the gates of the canal that bring wastewater into the tank, asked the farmers to use the bypass canal to get the water. They have even gone ahead and closed the gates. Next day enraged farmers went and removed the floodgates off the frame and kept in the house of president of the village water user association. Police intervened and allegedly warned the fishermen youth not provoke the farmers. Thereby, the issue of pollution is finally pushed aside amidst the tensions that arose between communities. The fishermen do not whom to blame, is it the farmers or water user’s association who dug canals or sewerage board or industries or the pollution control board – while the reality seem to lie in between.

      The village is dominated by people belonging to seven backward castes, of which fishermen community is also one. However, no single caste in the village has majority. All the backward castes are mostly supporters of ruling party, i.e. Telugu Desam. The competitive politics give little scope air their grievances aggressively, since to get a birth in the party itself is uncertain. This aspect of social stratification largely resulted in blunting of village unity in the recent times to articulate common problems such as pollution. 

      There is also one stranger perception of some panchayath ward members about the pollution campaign. Citing the active coverage of pollution in local newspapers and electronic media, they allege that real estate prices of Edulabad took a beating. They say media is responsible for focussing only Edulabad, while not writing so much about other pollution in the neighbouring villages in Musi downstream. This has caused, they allege, a disproportionate fear among buyers and are not buying lands in the village for agriculture or non-agricultural purposes. They said this has deprived the panchayath any revenue for meeting bare requirements of the village like lighting etc. It seems to be true that the village being closer to vicinity of highway, there is a spurt in lot of real estate activity, land purchased for setting commercial activities like, setting up industries, or educational institutions, godowns, poultry farms etc.  is in place in the region. However, such apprehensions may not true in the long run as buyers would correct their perceptions by obtaining right information.  

Cost-Benefits in Retrospect 

      The costs and benefits of pollution is a necessary criterion for understanding and evaluating choices for people and policy makers. Costs and benefits should be seen in the relevant time period. The benefits include the present and future streams of incomes that flow out of choice. Costs analogously include the present costs as well as future costs. Added difficulty for evaluating is what economists refer as externalities that are often hidden.  

      The current benefits of wastewater agriculture is Rs.4.71 crores per annum in terms of gross of value of paddy, in which a sum of Rs.2.88 crores accrue to farmers as net profits. It is creating a substantial employment of 5.57 lakh mandays per annum, which would give employment to 3000 odd agricultural labour. The benefits of irrigation are well known in terms of generating employment and income and reducing poverty. The significance of it would be even more for dry region. However, these benefits should be evaluated on the basis of sustainability of such growth. The village Edulabad actually stands on the brink of ecological disaster. Respondents reported of loss of 10 percent of crop in terms of empty shells in the crop, which are usually not more than 4 percent. Second, the rice grown in the region said to break easily. Thereby, farmers receive 10 percent less price compared to other areas. However, given the lesser costs of production, these reductions in the revenues do not affect the total profits. 

      The village is spending Rs. 5-6 lakhs of rupees on purchasing water. The villagers might be equivalent amount of money on medically treating various diseases. There are sections of people such as fishermen community which is losing a annual income of Rs.11 lakhs. In the past 5 yeas they at lost a total income of Rs.55 lakhs. Besides these there are several externalities such as health costs, loss to livestock. The damage to aquifers in terms of pollution is of long term in nature and difficult to value.  Another major dimension of pollution cost is the damage done to Edulabad tank. Since the tank remains full in all seasons, there is no chance for desilting, as is done under traditional system. Therefore, tank is heavily filled with. On the top of it, with the chemical effluents joining the tank, a dangerous toxic sludge is formed in the bottom. It would take at least two crores of rupees for cleaning the tank. Thus, the damage done to natural resources such as village tank and aquifers pose the question of inter-generational inequality. 

Case Study of Pedagudem 

      Pedagudem is second sample village selected for micro study. We have conducted the survey in February 2003 and we would present the preliminary observations in the following. The village Pedagudem is situated 35 km from the Hyderabad city lying in the `green belt’ of Musi river. The village is inhabited by  a population of 1356 persons in 256 households and it has a cultivated land of 956 acres. The village has tank that receives water through a channel from the Musi river. The village was originally a small hamlet, use to have an irrigated land of merely 256 acres in 1977 and the irrigated land it has increased more than three fold with import of wastewater. The village is a typical agricultural village, with cultivation as the sole occupation to the inhabitants, dairy and allied activities as secondary sources of livelihood. The village population is 1356.  

      Pedagudem is originally hamlet of Chowdarigudem became a pachnayat later. The village popultion constituted 272 households with a population of 1565 members.Out of these 222 households have lands and 50 households are landless. This is again rather a unusual feature that such a laege number of hoseholds have agricultureal lands Majority of households belong to upper castes (42.4 percent), mostly Reddies. Backward castes covering toddy tappers, washermen, carpenters, ironsmiths, weavers, etc constitutre 39.7 percent. and scheduled castes consitute 18 percent. The literacy level in the village is 53.5 percent according to the latest Census. However, 9.5 percent are found to be educated more than graduate level, majority are school level drop outs.  The village has high school 

      Looking at the social stratification of the population we observed that 42.4 percent of households belong to upper castes, mostly Reddies, and 39.7 percent belong to backward castes and 18 percent belong to scheduled castes. This village is slightly dominated by the upper castes, which is not normally so. A good number of upper caste and backward castes families now live in Hyderabad city, for number of reasons, including pollution. Mostly, for want of better education for their children, and the frequent ill health caused by polluted waters, they have reportedly decided to stay in the city that is 35 km away. Old people in the families continue to live in the village, while younger people with families live in the city. Male folk keep travelling between the city and village. 


          Table No.12.:  Water Quality Parameters in Pedagudem


          Water Quality Parameter Groundwater Surface water Standard

            Source: Test reports APPCB, 2003. 

      We have selected this village for the household survey since this lies in the middle reach in the Musi ayacut from the Hyderabad city. We have conducted our interviews in the month of Feb 2003 for over 10 days. We have collected the data over population, land use and irrigation, sanitation and water etc from the village panchayath office. We have got groundwater and surface water in the canals tested before embarking on the household survey. The household survey is based on a sample of 30 percent of the population picked at random, covering 30% of all castes and classes. We interviewed 64 households on the whole. The environmental impact of Musi river is mixed in sense of short term gains and long term costs. We have obtained primary information about the nature of problems such as drinking water problem, health problems on one hand and the benefits to agriculture on the other.

Water Quality Parameters in Pedagudem

      We got the surface as well as groundwater tested in Pedagudem. We have obtained the results of the surface water, and are awaiting the results of groundwater. All the pollution parameters of surface water in Pedagudem have exceeded the permitted standards for irrigational streams. The parameters such as biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, hardness, suspended and dissolved particles have exceeded the standard levels. There is high incidence of nitrates, sulphates, bicarbonates, chlorine etc. The incidence of metals is confined to iron, arsenic, manganese, nickel [table No.12].  

Agriculture and Wastewater Irrigation 

      The village land use pattern in Pedagudem has clear pattern after the changes in the sources of irrigation. We have obtained data at two time periods, namely 1991 and 2002, basically to compare before and after the arrival of wastewaters from Musi river. The village has cultivable land of 1933 acres (66.8 percent), out of which only 400 acres used have wet land and rest depended on rainfall. Now this irrigated land has dramatically increased to 1400 acres, (from 13.8 percent to 48.4 percent, se table no.13). The rise in net cultivated land between 1991-2002 is 35.4 percent. There is a corresponding fall in fallow land and cultivable wasteland. The onset of wastewater import through the canal that connects the Musi river with village tank has contributed to this massive rise in the net cultivated and as well as irrigated land. Since the wastewater flows do not stop around the year, the farmers grow two crops of paddy. The observation on the area and production of paddy in Pedagudem suggests that the gross cultivated land is 1.86 times the net cultivated land, which means 86 percent land is cultivated for the second crop. The gross cultivated land is thus 2800 acres in current period [table No.14]. The average yield among the sample households inn 2002 for kharif and rabi put together is found to be 27.4 bags per acre. The actual yield varied between 45 bags to 25 bags, a small percentage of crop is empty shells and mosquito bite.  

      The gross value of paddy grown in the village is estimated to be Rs.3.22 crores and total net profits to farmers. The net profits that accrue to farmers is around Rs.75 lakhs. The paddy cultivation creates employment of 4,48,000 mandays per annum, employment roughly to 2488 agricultural labour. 

      Table No. 13    Land Use Pattern in Pedagudem



    Fallow Cultivable





    Forest Village Total

      Source: Village Survey, Field work, 2003

            Table No. 14. Net and Gross Irrigated Area


    Net Irrigated Area

    Gross Irrigated Area

      Source: Village Survey, Field work, 2003 

      Table No,15 Sample Size and Distribution

    Total House


    Sample Houe holds



                  Table No.16

Area and Paddy Production in Pedagudem among sample households

      Land Cultivated
      Gross Output

*Output is bags (1 bag = 70 kg) 

      The village seem to be benefited from the continuous water from the Musi outflows. Now the village tank never dries up. The acreage of the paddy cultivation has slowly and steadily increased. After the formation of water users’ association and lots of funds are given to the village to construct water channels. The water now is more than sufficient to grow two crops, Kharif crop is long gestation one and for the Rabi, short gestation one. The water has high levels of nitrates, therefore there is no need for using any urea. The farmers thus save a cost of Rs.1000 to Rs1500 per acre per crop. But the rice grain that is cultivated breaks easily, therefore, gets 10 percent lesser price in the market. Secondly, there is 10% of grain loss in terms of empty shells. On the whole there is a loss of 20 percent in value for the crop. This is considered to be a small loss compared to the amount of water that enables the whole of the village to go for the paddy cultivation that was never there before. Farmers, though concerned, about the sustainability of the yield in the long run are quite happy with the present benefit. They are also aware that if the toxicity or the metal levels in the water rises, the lands may be damaged, as it happened in Uppal, Peerjadiguda, Pratapsingaram and Korramel. The new prosperity manifests in terms of two wheelers, many youg people now live in city educating their children in convent schools and still shuttling between the village and the city. What they perceive about the environmental damage either to the tank, or the fields or to rise in cost of drinking water is far lesser price compared to the benefit from the rise in agriculture.

      The fish in the village tank have completely dead for the past 6 years. There are 16 families of fishermen community in the village. These are mostly immediately badly hit section in the village. These people have very small pieces of land which gives too little income to live on. They use to earn handsomely by fishing activity in earlier days to an extent of Rs.3000 per month per household. But once the fish has died, they are completely bereft of any such income. On the top of this, the village still pachayath still auctions the fish. The fishermen are forced to buy the rights, as they fear that once they lose, they may not buy it again. The poverty has increased among the fishermen (referred as Mudiraj or bantla caste) due to the pollution. The S.C households are holding small agricultural holdings that gives them bare levels of income to escape hunger. But the increasing costs of drinking waters along with other consumption expenditure has pushed them to critical levels of existence. 


Caste Selected


Total popul


Male Female Adults Children

Source: Field work, 2003.          

      The source of drinking water for the village, traditionally, was the village tank and wells. The village panchayats had built an overhead tank 20 years to provide chlorinated well water under protected water supply scheme of the government. All households were given water connections through private taps. Water is given at a nominal charge of Rs.20 per household per month. The village started receiving the water from the Musi River, which was being used for the agricultural purpose, since 1995 the water started appearing heavily coloured with strong odour. Quality of groundwater, since 1995 gradually deteriorated and by 1998, everyone started getting arthritis, stomachaches and diarrhoea. All the well-off households started transporting water on two wheelers and some in cars and tractors. In a matter of two years all most everyone stopped using this water for drinking purposes, are buying water. The water markets have also slowly developed, milkman started carrying water back from Hyderabad city, some people started selling water cans, brought in jeeps and RTC buses. Now even a private tanker comes for everyday and sells water at rate of Rs.10 per pot. Every household buys one can per day in winter and rainy season and two in summer. Thus they spend Rs.300 to Rs.600 per month depending on the season and also on the household size – an annual expenditure of Rs. 75,000 – Rs.1,50,000 for entire village per month and Rs.9 lakhs to Rs.18 lakhs per annum! In the past 5 years, they spent around Rs. 45 lakhs on buying drinking water, thanks to the pollution of Musi.  

      Table No,18. Water Use pattern and Sources in Pedagudem


Caste Sample(h.h) Purchased Clean Water No of households using Contaminated Borewell Water

      The contamination of groundwater in the village has occurred almost five years ago. Since then 60 percent of households have been purchasing drinking water. However, 40 percent households belonging to relatively poor households are still consuming the groundwater supplied by the Panchayath [table No.18]. The purchased water is used only for drinking water. On average, each household purchases at least one 10-litre can that costs Rs.10. However, people use the borewell water for cooking purposes besides, bathing and washing. Therefore, all households at least partially consume the contaminated groundwater, while 40 percent are consume it fully. The average expenditure on purchased drinking water comes to Rs.300 per month per household. The village as a whole is spending around Rs.48,960 per month, and Rs.5.875 lakhs per annum.  

Health effects: 

      The health problems are surfacing substantially in the village. We have collected information from two para-medical doctors who practice in village and then proceeded to collect information over disease incidence at household level. We found that 10 percent roughly are still consuming the borewell water supplied to them and all those households have reported severe problem of arthritis, are regularly consuming painkiller tablets to keep fit for the daily chores. Sheppard caste households have reported sudden deaths of sheep and goats some times. People sometimes get loose motions whenever they consume mutton, particularly, the livers. The goats are therefore are bought from outside.  

      The health effects of the contaminated water in the village are telling. We have obtained information on water borne diseases from the inquiring with the households as well as interviewing the local para-medical practitioner. 60 percent of households in all castes have reported arthritis. The joint pains problem is the most frequent complaint. They purchase painkillers, mostly, Niacin, Diclofenac Sodium, Brufen, analgin etc. The gastric problems are also reported on high side, particularly loose motions. 38 percent of sample households have reported about at least one member of family suffered malaria. 29 percent have reported skin irritations and 11.5 percent reported eye irritations [table No.19]. There are various workers, particularly cowherds contract skin diseases after getting into the channels where they wash buffaloes.  Agricultural workers too suffer the skin diseases while transplanting for standing hours in the wet fields filled by polluted waters.  

          Table No.19. Health Hazards in Pedagudem


    Caste  sample  (hh) sample  population No of persons among the sample population affected in the last two years

      It is not the human beings that face health hazards due to the polluted waters, but livestock in the village is suffering substantially. Buffaloes often consume the wastewater directly, though they are given borewell water at cowshed. Buffalo owners reported frequent loose motions and liver flukes affecting the stock. The milk yields are frequently affected. Though we could get information on morbidity, we could not obtain information on mortality, since farmers sell away the buffaloes before they die. The buffaloes, which are hi-breed Punjab variety are bought at a price of Rs.25,000 are maintained for four to five years. Each buffalo gives milk up to  11 to 15 litres, giving the farmer a revenue of 11 per litre, normally gives the farmer a monthly revenue of Rs.4 to 5 thousand. The buffalo is sold off, whenever it contracts diseases frequently and milk yields drop. The buffaloes are sold 30 to 40 percent discounted price for every 3 years of its age.  The information on morbidity levels, of course are concealed in the second hand market. The veterinary doctors in Korremul village have told us that polluted waters as the biggest reason in the increased morbidity. Buffaloes often die in 5 years after getting liver flukes, as they consume wastewaters directly which have nickel, iron, lead, sulphates, nitrates and coliform etc.  

          Table No.20

Live stock Population among sample households

           in Pedagudem


    Caste Selected


    Buffalos Ox/cow Goat/


Concluding Remarks

      . We found that the early Nineties is the phase when the villages in the Musi downstream increasingly started receiving wastewaters from the Musi, released from the Hyderabad sewerage lines. The wastewaters were seen as a bounty hitherto never available in these water-scarce areas. The popular notion was that the wastewater is more nutrient, hence it is suitable for the purpose of cultivation. The villages have almost on war footing dug canals to connect wastewaters to their tanks. No one thought of the consequences nor did the authorities, neither the Sewerage Board, nor the Pollution Control Board nor Irrigation Department nor anyone else. No one predicted the larger ramification of importing the wastewaters in terms of impact on fish, other organisms, groundwater, and agriculture. The process of accrual of benefits and costs too had a certain trajectory and sequence. Initially, the villages at the distance of 5 km from the city started using the waters and seen to benefit enormously. Then the villages in the next 10 km started drawing waters so on and so forth. By the time villages at a distance of 25 km were utilising the wastewaters, the region closest to the city started receiving the costs of pollution: the ground water become unfit for drinking, the buffaloes drinking the waters started getting diseases. These environmental problems which arose out of untreated sewerage waters started extending slowly to more and more interior villages in the downstream of Musi. The problems became more acute with chemical effluents joining the untreated sewerage. The chemical effluents join Musi at various points coming from several industrial estates. The polluting industries were mainly tanneries, chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and textiles. But on other hand agriculture remained almost unaffected. Except that occasionally seedlings experience sudden death and marginal rise in empty shell in crop, paddy cultivation has been affected much so far. 

       In some the villages near by the vicinity of the city converted lands into real estates rest into grass cultivation, Some of the media reports described these as due to pollution, but in our interviews farmers have denied these reports. We learnt that grass cultivation is more profitable than paddy in these areas, resulting in the changes in the cropping pattern.  

       The wastewaters import by the downstream villagers have benefits at the first place. The irrigated land in these villages has increased phenomenally, thereby, the gross cultivated area. The coarse cereals are replaced by paddy. The single crop is extended to double crop in an year. This dramatic rise agriculture due to availability of waters, thanks to city’s ever running sewerage, proved a boon to downstream farmers. Each village, say with a net cultivated irrigated land produces crops with a gross value of Rs.25 lakhs. The greenbelt, so-called, in Musi downstream produces incomes betweenRs.40 to 60 crores per annum under wastewater irrigation. The sustainability of this growth is questionable if the levels of toxic effluents keep coming in the wastewaters. There are no indications as of now on any adverse effects of existing pollution in the surface waters. The farmers in the regions, thereby, do not complain about the pollution in the waters. They perceive that it’s a small cost, compared the benefits they receive in terms of irrigation.  

       The surface water pollution, however, finally polluted the groundwater as well. The drinking water is affected. The polluted groundwater affected the health of the people seriously. While 30 to 50 percent of people started buying clean drinking water, rest of the population continue to consume the contaminated waters, unable to afford to buy clean drinking waters. There are commercial water suppliers who bring potable waters and sell to villagers. According to our estimates, each household that buys waters is spending Rs.300 to Rs.450 per month. Depending on number of households that can afford to buy waters, the average spending varies among villages. We found that villages with larger the number of landed households, higher is the propensity to buy and vice versa. The village expenditure on drinking water is estimated to be 20-25 lakhs of rupees per annum. 

       The consumption of contaminated waters is showing serious consequences on health of the people. Its not that people who are able to buy drinking water are being saved from this ensuing hazard, as everyone use contaminated waters for cooking purposes. The major health problems, found in our study are arthritis, stomach disorders, skin diseases, foetal disorders, and abortions. Besides these, the wastewater logging in the village tanks resulted in severe proliferation of mosquitoes and malaria. 

       One of immediate fallouts of these health hazards in the villages the substantial recurring medical expenditures among the households. We found that in Edulabad, poorer households who are consuming contaminated ground waters supplied by the panchayats are spending a amount of Rs.200 to Rs.300 on purchasing pain-killers. Without consuming painkillers, many of working class people are not able leave for their work. The malaria and typhoid fevers are found to be affecting many households regularly, causing extensive morbidity and expenditures for the people. Washer men and fishermen are afflicted with skin diseases frequently. The skin diseases while washing the buffaloes in the waters affect even many workers who work with buffaloes. 

      There are traditional communities such as fishermen, who are major victims in the import of polluted waters as the fish is completely exterminated. In our sample village, we found that this community lost an investment of  Rs.5 lakhs and lost an income of Rs.Rs.60 to Rs.70 lakhs in the past 5 years. It has rendered them unemployed, indebted and pushed down the poverty line.

       The untreated sewerage with industrial effluents, thus have produced mixed fortunes in the downstream. In our view, though the benefits may seem little more than the costs, the dynamics of increasing pollution can change the prospects. The damages can be lasting.  

      We have examined the community response to pollution problem in the these villages. There is dearth of awareness about the enormous costs of pollution. The political parties and peoples representative have time and again represented the problem of drinking waters to the government. There is hardly any complaints about the pollution of surface waters. This is because, benefits and costs of polluted waters are not borne equally by all sections people. Farmers are not ready to make complaints about water for the fear of losing them. There are others who receive the costs without any benefits, such as fishermen, want to complain, but do not have enough popular support. It is a prisoners’ dilemma problem that exists that militates against collective action. 

      The poor and selective articulation of environmental grievance can be explained by changing social dynamics in the villages. The old and political articulate sections of people who were managing village assets such as tanks and canals have virtually left the villages or retired after becoming old. The present sections who do the agriculture belong more to backward castes, whose political stature situated tremendous competitive politics and these newly upwardly mobile political classes are not allowed put forth their grievances in effective manner. Thus changing social base of village lends explanation about the reticence of people over problems which are posed in mixed environment of costs and benefits. 

Select Bibliography

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The Remedies to Pollution: A Law and Economics Framework

      The traditional solution to pollution given by economists, proposed by A.C.Pigou, who refer the problem as internalising the externalities was through imposing pollution tax and restricting the production to socially optimum level where marginal social costs are equal to marginal private costs [Mehta et al (1997), p-67]. However, practically in developing countries this solution is seldom tried. The governments encouraged unrestricted industrial development, pollution is made subject of regulation. Fiscal and pricing methods are rarely applied. Also the problem of environmental externality has started coming up more and more only since late eighties and nineties.  

      The Pigovian solution was criticised by emerging literature in law and economics for its over-determination of market failure. The pioneer in the approach, Ronald Coase, argued that market failure is more a case of incomplete assignment of property rights.  Coase argued that if right to pollute or not-to-pollute is legally explicitly specified, it generates incentives for victims and polluters to bargain privately and reach an efficient (mutually beneficial) solution. It further goes into the relative efficacy of liability rules in presence of transaction costs and their absence. When courts award damages and injunctions, to whichever party, the Coasian theorem predicts that they would negotiate towards a workable solution. But the right over the use has to be assigned. However, courts can lead towards an efficient solution by applying specific legal rules, such as strict liability or negligence, and damages and/or injuctions. [Cooter and Ulen (1995)].  

      The third important solution against pollution is the regulation or the Command-and Control Approach. Setting of standards, imposing ecological taxes (Pigovian), licensing, civil and criminal liability are some of components of CAC approach. Insurance, collective action, and fiscal incentives are also additional instruments. The collective action by the polluters, for example, is made possible through common effluent treatment plants, while victims’ collective bargaining is supposed to be helped through legal action.  

      However, environmental regulation and legal action, in developing countries is met with little success for several reasons, including poor monitoring, lack of regulatioin, presence of high transaction costs, moral hazard and rent-seeking on the part of regulation authorities [Murthy et al (1999), p120)]. This has seriously affected the distributive justice to the victims in the so-called developmental process. There is need for studying environmental issues in specific contexts to bring out specificities and complexities. The environmental problem requires multidimensional approach that includes proper, regulation, legal standards, and awareness. Law and economics approach integrates all these in studying and tacking environmental problems.

Scope and Methodology

Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 

      The environmental impact assessment has come out as the most important valuation exercise that enables to assess the net benefits of the developmental process. As is well known the development process though industrialisation, urbanisation, and intensification of agriculture leads to unsustainable depletion of natural resources and deteriorates quality of environment, makes the impact assessment all the more essential. The impact assessment on those natural resources which have market make the evaluation less problematic; it is those resources which do not have a direst use or market that poses enormous difficulty. The environmental economists have developed a range of methods of assessing the value of non-market natural resources through imputation of artificial values. We would briefly state those methods in the following. 

      Valuation of natural resources is important two reasons, first, is to justify the investments made in relation to the benefits; and second, to arrive at an environmentally corrected GDP through proper accounting system. The natural resources are of two kinds, namely, those who have direct use value and those who do not have. The total economic value (TEV) of resources that have use-values such as agricultural lands, irrigation channels, irrigation tanks, parks and those resources that do not have direct use value, such as village waste lands, water pool, woodlands, lakes and flora and fauna. The former can have market values, option values (preference to preserve the resource for the future), and bequest value (preference for the recreation and aesthetic value); the latter may have bequest value and existence value. Resources with direct use value may serve the purposes of production, flood controls, water catchments, carbon storage and recreation. The direct-use resources serve the ecological functions of life support system of multitude of species, recharging and regeneration of natural systems, absorbing the human wastes, maintaining biodiversity [Tisdel (1995)].   

      The natural assets that have a market provide a ready measure of its value through market determined price, but non-market goods are difficult to value. There are two broadly two approaches to arrive at the value of non-market goods is referred as willingness-to-pay (WTP) and also as revealed preference method  (RPM). An individual is asked to how he would pay for a resource, if it is sold or how much one would pay to protect their asset from the damage. The methods involved in the approach are Opportunity Cost Method (OCM) and Replacement Cost Method (RPM) to know the direct use values of resource, Travel cost method (TCM) particularly for calculating option values and bequest values, hedonic price method (HPM) value to preserve declining the market values due to environmental deterioration and Contingent Value Method (CVM) which involves asking people how much they value a natural resource, bypassing the need to refer to market prices [refer to Hodge (1995),p.59-70; Turner et al (1994), p.113-15; and Tisdel (1993) for detailed exposition]. The OCM, TCM, RPM and HPM are used to value only those which have a direct use; the CVM is used to value both bequest value and existence value [Murthy (1999)p.194)].  The valuation of environmental resources therefore may require more than one method to arrive at the total economic value. Again, these methods can produce several types of biases, the researcher should be vary of, particularly it can distort the values for various reasons [see Tuner et al 1994)]. Moreover, the TEV need not necessarily represent the true value, as many scientists have critiqued the economic approach that the ecology can have a prior value before the economic activity and this valuation is human-centric and ignores/undervalues the actual value to the ecology/universe as a whole. 

      We propose to study the environmental impact in terms of ecological and aesthetic value of natural resources such as tanks, streams, grazing lands and other common properties.  Particularly, impact on fish, other species will be taken into consideration. The valuation of the damage will be estimated using contingent valuation and replacement costs methods, which are more practical and feasible. The data will be obtained using a village questionnaire, which will be marshalled among the village officers, village panchayat heads, and community leaders. 

Environmental Sustainability  

As already defined, sustainability means the ability to be continued indefinitely in time. The environmental sustainability of human ways of life refers to the ability of the environment to sustain those ways of life. This, in turn, depends on the maintenance of the environmental functions that provide this sustenance, according to the classification described above. Which functions are important for which ways of life, and the level at which they should be sustained, will vary to some extent by culture and society, although there are obviously basic biophysical criteria for human existence. Such considerations provide the context for the setting of standards of sustainability, to be discussed later.  In part, the concern over the environmental unsustainability of current ways of life has an ethical basis: some consider it wrong to diminish the environmental options of future generations below those available today; others consider wrong the impacts on other life forms that unsustainability implies. The concern derives also in part from perceived self-interest. Unsustainability threatens costs and disruption to ways of life in the future that are or may be greater than those incurred by moving voluntarily towards sustainability now. The self -interested concern about unsustainability will obviously become stronger as the time-scale within which the costs and disruption will be experienced is perceived to shorten. This is probably the reason for the current strengthening of public anxiety about the environment.  While some would view environmental sustainability as an ethical imperative – one that is becoming an increasingly important, though not yet dominant, objective of public policy – it is not usually viewed as an end in itself. It is, rather, a present desirability with regard to future human development, yet the conditions for sustainability can act as a constraint on present development. Sustainability guarantees certain life opportunities in the future at the cost of the modification or sacrifice of life opportunities in the present. The political argument, and the tension in the concept of sustainable development, is over the acceptability of and uncertainties involved in the trade-offs. The task for science is to clarify the uncertainties as far as possible. The task for economic analysis is to elaborate the economic implications of moving towards sustainability, and show how the costs can be minimized, once the definition of and need for sustainability have been accepted.   

Chapter 3

Regulatory and Legal Framework for

Environmental Pollution

I. Legal Framework

      The India legal system provides four major sources of law for addressing water pollution problems: (1) a comprehensive scheme of administrative regulation through the permit system of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974; (2)Environmental Protection Act 1986 which defines water quality parameters; (3) public nuisance actions polluters, including municipalities charged with controlling water pollution; (4) the common law right of riparian owners to unpolluted waters.  In addition, Union Government’s Departments of Environment, Forests and Wildlife has developed action plan for prevention of pollution of Ganga and a National River Conservation Plan scheduled to be completed by 2005. 

The Water Act 1974

The Water (Prevention and control of Pollution) Act of 1974 is a complex statute which has been in effect for over two decades. Many features of the Act have been challenged in the courts. In this section we discuss the framework of the water Act and analyse major issues including the scope of judicial relief authorized by the Act, constitutional challenges to the Act, liability of corporate officers, and funding of the administration of the Act. 

  The Water Act of 1974 represented one of India’s first attempts to deal comprehensively with an environmental issue. Parliament adopted minor amendments to the Act in 1978 and revised the Act in 1988 to more closely conform to the provisions of the Environment(Protection)Act of 1986. Water is a subject in the State List under the Constitution. Consequently, the Water Act, a central law, was enacted under Article 252(1) of the Constitution, which empowers the Union Government to legislate in a field reserved for the states, where two or ,more State Legislatures consent to a central law. All the states have approved implementation of the Water Act as enacted in 1974.


                   The Water Act establishes a Central and state pollution control boards. The Central board may advise the Central Government on water pollution issues, coordinate the activities of state pollution control boards, sponsor investigation and research relating to water pollution, and develop a comprehensive plan for the control and prevention of water pollution. The Central board also performs the functions of a state board for the union territories. In conflicts between a state board and the Central board, the Central board prevails. Since 1982,the Central board has been attached to the Union Government’s Department of Environment, Forests, and Wildlife.


         The Water Act is comprehensive in its coverage, applying to streams, inland waters, subterranean waters, and sea or tidal waters. Standards for the discharge of effluent or he quality of the receiving waters are not specified in the Act itself. Instead, the Act enables state boards to prescribe these standards. 

    The Act provides for a permit system or ‘consent’ procedure to prevent and control water pollution. The Act generally prohibits disposal of polluting matter in streams, wells and sewers or on land in excess of the standards established by the state boards. A person must obtain consent from the state board before taking steps to establish any industry, operation or process, any treatment and disposal system or any extension or addition to such a system which might result in the discharge of sewage or trade effluent into a stream, well or sewer or onto land, construction and use of the outlet as well as the nature and composition of new discharges. The state board must maintain and make public a register containing the particulars of the consent orders. The Act empowers a state board, upon thirty days notice to a polluter, to execute any work required under a consent order which has not been executed. The board may recover the expenses for such work from the polluters.


      Other functions of the state boards specified by the Water Act include: (1) planning a comprehensive programme for prevention, control, and abatement of water pollution in the state; (2) encouraging, conducting, and participating in investigations and research of water pollution problems; (3) inspecting facilities for sewage and trade effluent treatment; and (4) developing economical and reliable methods of treatment of sewage and trade effluents. The Act gives the state boards the power of entry and inspection to carry out their functions . Moreover, a state board may take certain emergency measures if it determines that an accident or other unforeseen event has polluted a stream or well. These measures include removing the pollutants, mitigating the damage, and issuing orders to the polluter prohibiting effluent discharges. The 1988 amendment introduced a new section 33A which empowers state boards to issue directions to any person, officer or authority, including orders to close, prohibit or regulate any industry, operation or process and to stop or regulate the supply of water. Electricity or any other service. Prior to the adoption of section 33A, a state board could issue direct orders to polluters under section 32 of the Act. A state board, however, could only exercise this power of the pollution arose from ‘any accident or toher unforeseen act or even’.  Moreover, a state board’s authority to issue orders under section 32 was limited to orders directed to the polluter, not to government officials or other parties. The state boards can also apply to courts for injunctions to prevent water pollution under section 33 of  the Act. Under section 33 or a direction from the board under section 33 A is punishable by fines and imprisonment.  

      The amendments also increased the power of the Central board relative to the state boards. Under section 18 of the Act, the Central Government may determine that a state board has failed to comply with Central board directions and that because of this failure an emergency has arisen . The Central Government may then direct the Central board to perform the functions of the state board. 

      The 1988 amendments modified section 49 to allow  citizens to bring actions under the Water Act. Now a state board must make relevant reports available to complaining citizens, unless the board determines that the disclosires would harm ‘public interest’. Previously, the Act allowed courts to recognize only those actions brought by a board, or with a previous written sanction of a board.

Environment Protection Act 1986

      After the Bhopal gas trajedy, Government of India felt the need for a comprehensive legislation that gives the over all well defined regulatory and legal framework. It is also considered as an enveloping act of bring water, air and noise pollution legislations together. The scope of the EPA act is broad in terms of coverage of ecology, human beings and micro organisms and natural resources. It defines environmental pollution present in several forms such as gaseous, solid, liquid or noise. Schedule I of Rule 3 defines permissible levels of pollution for 78 types of industries. The polluting industries have to submit self-declaration of emission of effluents, certified by competent agency, from its plants and details of treatment of effluents and discharge locations and levels to the pollution control authority. The Section 3(1) of the Act empowers the Centre to take all warranted measures necessary or expedient for the propose of protecting and improving the quality of environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution. EPA is the first statue to give the Central Government authority to issue direct, written orders including order to close prohibit regulate any industry, operational process or to stop or regulate the supply of electricity, water or by other service. The Act provides for penalties for non-complying industries punishable with fines up to Rs.1 lakh and/or imprisonment up to 5 years. The Act imposes fine up to Rs.5000 per day for continuance non-compliance. The Act also makes clear about the person managing the establishment causing pollution, over the liability say secretary or manager or any other officer  [section 16(1)]. 

The legislation had another interesting component. For the first time, private citizens were given the right to file cases against non-complying factories. A private citizen may file a complaint, however, only after giving notice of at least 60 days to the concerned authority of his/her intentions to file. One of the chief criticisms of the Water Act was its prohibition of the public from taking litigation against polluters.

Other Statutory Remedies

In addition to common law and the constitutional remedies, the Public Liability Insurance Act of   1991 (PLIA) and National Environmental Tribunal Act of 1995 (NETA) provide a summary remedy to the victims of a hazardous industrial accident. Both laws adopt a no-fault liability standard all but abolishing the defenses available to the owner of hazardous facility and create a speedy claims-disposal machinery. Under the PLIa, claims upto Rs.25,000 may be filed before the district collector, with the jurisdiction for awarding larger amounts vesting in the national tribunal constituted under the ETA.

Class Actions

Class action suits promote efficiency and fairness in the handling of large number of similar claims. They are economical and convenient forum for disposing of similar lawsuits, justified on the grounds of fairness. A class action suit can also prevent a possible conflicting outcome from individual suits. It can prove to be an effective way of enjoin a whole group of polluters, as in case of Ganga Pllution (Tanneries) Case.

Public Interest Litigation

      Most environmental actions in India are brought under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution. The writ procedure is preferred over the conventional suit because it is speedy, relatively inexpensive and offers direct access to the highest courts of the land. Nevertheless, class action suits also have advantages, like, courts as a rule do not grant monetary compensation in writ proceedings, while generally monetary recoveries from tortfeasors in environmental cases can only be obtained through a suit. A second advantage class action suits offer is that detailed evidence may be adduced during the trail. This far, the environmental violations that have reached the courts have been so gross that judges were able to decide most issues on the basis of affidavits, With the increasing use of toxic chemical in Indian agriculture and industry, there is a strong likelihood of more subtle, more difficult-to-prove environmental dispute reaching the courts. These disputes will probably be litigated in more sophisticated and combative fashion than present day PIL. Technical experts may require submitting to cross-examination. Causality between the pollutant and the harm may have to the rigorously established. The class action procedure appears more suited than the writ procedure to accommodate such complexities. Moreover where there are large member of victims of where the victims are poor or disadvantaged, the delay ende3mic in the disposal of suits might not pose a problem. N such cases, directions for an expedited hearing of the class suit could be obtained from the court where the class action is filed or from a superior court. 

      Though class actions are very useful means of litigation, however, they are not without problems. Radical individuality amongst a few members can threaten the integrity of a class; dissent within a class concerning liability or relief can complicate litigation and objections by a few members may jeopardize settlements. In U.S, the Agent Orange litigation exemplifies the large class action, where thousands of Vietnam veterans sued collectively, but the case got complicated, as the parties got divided and disposal got delayed since there was no incontrovertible evidence to prove that Agent Orange actually caused any of the claimed disability. It is but for the judge’s prevalence avoided the case from fizzling out.  A sum of $ 250 million dollars was awarded, and distributed through direct cash awards and indirectly through rehabilitation measures. In India a pragmatic spirit animates the amended Order 1, rule 8 of CPC of 1908. It is now up to lawyers to use this rule to its pull full potential in environmental cases.  

      One of the main reasons for the pollution of water pollution is the industrial effluents let off without being treated by the industries. Despite the clear norms and regulatory mechanism, the unabated pollution by the industries caused severe serious problems. It is the mostly the environmentalists that have filed public interest litigations that has resulted in the major judicial decisions. The success of PILs in India prompted by several social activists has invited hundreds of PILs filed across the states and there is an increasing view that they are becoming fashionable. There are instances public interest petitions dismissed on the view that they are motivated by private interests, as in the case of Subash Kumar vs.State of Bihar10. 

Urban Development – Externalities

Sewarage Treatment Disposal – Market Failure, Law and State Failure

Case of Hyderabad City

Wastewater management

Bounty and Bane: Downstream



1. Rajkumar - మార్చి 16, 2007

An excellent article that enables any person not only to have an understanding of Musi river issue but also to have a clear perspective on it. i request the authors to look into the technical designing of the blog, becouse all the graphics and informative tables are missing due to some technical problems. Please rework and onlce again publish this article.


2. Padmini Menon - ఏప్రిల్ 3, 2007

A fairly well-researched piece. Have you undertaken any insitutional appraisal of the APPCB?

3. Kapil - డిసెంబర్ 21, 2007

Excellent article. Hope the Government realizes the damage it’s doing to the voiceless poor (only in my dreams). I was wondering if you have any specifics on pollution levels in Uppal. Can you cite any references that will provide me this information.

4. Gayathri Mekala - ఫిబ్రవరి 8, 2008

Excellent article. Sir, could you please send me the original paper (devi.gaya3@gmail.com ). The paper on the net does not show the data tables at all and without them, it is not very helpful.

I would appreciate it very much.

Thank you
Gayathri Mekala

5. Novey - మార్చి 30, 2008

Excellent and nice articles Sir! Keep on poroducing articles like yhese so that everyone else may know about it’s importance….

6. Rajesh Nune - మార్చి 31, 2008

Excellent article,

It would be more helpful to students, if you would have given tables and fig’s.
I request you please send me the above data..

7. అనామకం - ఏప్రిల్ 4, 2008

nice article, it is useful for students like me
i really appreciate for your work sir

8. ifra fatima - ఏప్రిల్ 4, 2008

nice article,it is useful for students like me
i really appreciate for your work sir
i hope govt. will take action

9. M V Bhaskar - సెప్టెంబర్ 11, 2008

Pollution of waterbodies in Hyderabad – Musi, Hussainsagar, etc.
I would like to tell you about a new invention that can tackle water pollution by organic waste like sewage in an efficient manner.
The product is called Nualgi and it is an plant nutrient to make Diatom Algae bloom in the water body, Diatoms are aquatic plants and these absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This oxygen enables aerobic bacteria to grow and breakdown the organic matter.
Thus Nualgi is an economical, sustainable and natural process to increase the dissolved oxygen level of polluted water.

10. ISHWAR .B.GHORADE - మే 23, 2009

Hi sir,

Excelent article, it is very important those they are working in this field
as will as for research students like me.

11. venkatesh kasula 18.11.2010 - నవంబర్ 18, 2010

Really exllent article for area river of musi for future planing govt under take musi plant will do water purify at end of city between nagole&uppal area may be that time surround the musi area villeges will be safe from pollution.

12. Venkat Reddy - ఆగస్ట్ 26, 2011

Excellent article. I myself a native of Pratap Singaram village know how much Hyderabad’s development has affected us. As a kid i learned swimming in Musi, drank spring water at the edges and banks of Musi and the canals. I used to do fishing in the Musi using bait and nets, plucked Mangoes, Indian Dates, etc. But, now when i go there and see it’s impossible to even open the window of the car, not put my leg in the canal due to the odor and the turbidity/pollution it has. It is even more disheartening to see that except mosquitoes no other organism(Snakes, Fish, Crab, Bird, etc;) lives there. It’s kind of death knell for my village. It’s impossible to express my feelings.


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