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Dear  Mr Naresh Kumar Sagar,
We are writing to you because of your interest in water and waste management. We know that you will find our new report of interest: Citizens’ Seventh Report on the State of India’s Environment, Excreta Matters: How urban India is soaking up water, polluting rivers and drowning in its own waste. The report, in two volumes, is on the horrendous crisis of water scarcity and growing threat of water pollution in cities and presents a detailed city-by-city analysis of the situation on the ground. The findings of our report are based on a nationwide survey, in which we collected primary data on the state of water and waste provisioning. We used this data for analysis and also put together an assessment of the challenges ahead. 

We know that India will urbanize. It will implode, which will put pressure on scarce water resources. And if we do not get the sums of water-waste correct, it will also drown in its own excreta. It is also clear that we in the growing parts of the South do not have the financial capital or natural resources to be able to ape the systems of the already industrialized world cities. We know that we have to urbanize, but to do this differently, so that we can build cities that are water-prudent and waste-wise. 
How is this possible? 

This is what we have detailed in the two-volumes of our report. The first report details issues of water supply, groundwater, sewage and why we are not managing to clean our rivers and lakes, in spite of pumping money and new technologies. It joins the dots between pollution and our flush toilets – between the river and the cities infrastructure to provide water to all and take back the waste of all. It then sets out to explore the management challenges – from the issue of private sector involvement to the matters of economics of water and waste in cities and what needs to be done to build a different future. The report presents an agenda for change, which we hope will be accepted and adopted by cities as they grow. 

The second volume presents a city agenda – city by city. We detail the water and waste stories of 71 cities: We ask where does the water come from, where does the waste go? Putting together this apparently simple answer has taken us a huge amount of research. It is indeed appalling how little we know of our own realities. 

Today cities across India are sourcing their water from further and further away, which in turn is increasing tensions between rural and urban water use. Worse, cities take clean water but release sewage and toxins in rivers and lakes. This in turn leads to pollution of local water sources, forcing cities to look for newer and newer water – and longer the water pipeline gets, the more the distribution losses in supply or water and less is the amount available for investment in sewage and pollution control. In this book we discuss the challenge of dying rivers, in spite of the race to build sewage treatment plants. We present data on the state of pollution, treatment systems and costs. And we argue that we need ways to change the flush and forget mindset, if this vicious cycle of water scarcity and pollution has to be broken. We believe this can and must be done.  

It is for this reason that we are excited by this research. We hope that this knowledge of the sums of urban water and waste will help us demand the need for innovation and re-engineering in technologies, systems and methods used for water supply and sewage. 

As we see it, the ‘matter’ of water and excreta – is both a crisis but also an opportunity to get it right. We will look forward to your involvement in this matter in the coming months. We believe these reports detail out the way Indian cities (and perhaps other parts of the world that are similarly placed) can develop differently. We hope you will also agree that this report is not just about water and waste. But about the paradigm of urban growth that is sustainable and affordable. This is the challenge.

Please do get a copy of the books, as you will find these useful. The e-version of the report is also available at our store: I am writing because we know that not only will the report be useful in your work, but also that your payment will help CSE’s financial sustainability. All the money we get from the sales of our publications goes into our corpus (endowment), which in turn helps us survive tough times. So, we hope you will not only get your own copy but will also help us spread the word about the report and its findings.

With warm regards
Sunita Narain

Excreta Matters (2-volume set)
Price (including postage):
Volume 1, 296 pages, Rs 750/USD 45.00
Volume 2, 496 pages, Rs 1,100/USD 60.00
2-Volume set price: Rs 1,450/USD 80.00
Down To Earth readers get 10% discount. Please quote your customer number

1. To make an online purchase, please visit:

2. Pay by cheque/DD in favor of
Centre for Science and Environment
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,
New Delhi-110 062

Contents: Volume 1
CHAPTER 1: Pipe dream    
It is axiomatic that as cities grow, so will the demand for water. Or, is it? What if cities have no idea what the water demand is, yet attempt gregarious supply? Beyond the city, is urban-industrial growth already inciting water conflicts?
    Scenes from a pipe dream    
    Supply and supply more    
    Scarce for most    
    Lost in transmission    
CHAPTER 2: Hurtling into the aquifer    
City water math, truly laissez-faire, turns into a con if you consider the x-factor: groundwater use. Nobody knows how much is used in India’s cities. What is visible, though, is how city 
waterbodies are disappearing. Depleting the aquifer by default is foolish enough. But how wise is it to extinguish a city’s natural endowment?
    X-factor in water maths    
    Stop sponging off lakes and tanks        
CHAPTER 3: The water-waste connection    
Where there are humans...there will be excreta. Where there is water use...there will be sewage discharge. More water...more sewage. More water for whom...more sewage from whom? 
Sewerage systems to collect and convey excreta exist only in parts of cities. Within a city, there are stark inequities in water use as well as excreta disposal.
    Water: sewage    
    Excreta journey    
    Excreta tales from all over India    
    Think excreta: connect water to sewage    
CHAPTER 4: The real excreta of progress    
Cities today exhibit a flush-and-forget mentality that’s turning India’s rivers into sewage canals. The mentality has turned pollution control into an infrastructure spree, a pure scam. A rash of sewage treatment plants dot cityscapes. The river remains pus-filled. Moreover, rivers in India, dammed now from headwater to sea, are losing flow. So such a mentality bodes really ill.        
    Downstream is where all of us live    
    Tryst with cleaning rivers    
    Clean-up: tech and cash    
    Without water can a river be cleaned?    
    Partial treatment = Pollution    
    Solution for pollution    
CHAPTER 5: PPP dream    
Could water, too, increase cash flow? What if the sewage treatment infrastructure spree was not only a spree but also a profitable bandwagon to jump on to? Two buzzwords dominate and can sell any plan: 24x7 and PPP. But will they work a new magic?
    Right answer or wrong question?    
    Infra structure: India pining    
    Future: private    
CHAPTER 6: Faeconomics    
The cost to deliver water has become exorbitant. But is full-cost pricing the solution? Moreover, the supply-obsession of water utilities ensure they pay little attention to the growing volumes of sewage their supply results in. Can urbanising India persist on such a path?
    Bills and beyond    
    Costs: electrifying    
    Recovery is a separate business by itself    
    ‘Matter’ is engrossing    
CHAPTER 7: The agenda for water to water    
Provide clean water to all. Augment local water supply to cut the length of the pipeline. 
Legislate to protect waterbodies. Get rich without water. Re-design the flush toilet. India must 
design to turn waste to water. Let us re-learn the water-to-water cycle. Let the rivers flow.
    India isn’t imperial Rome    
    The strategy for water and waste  


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