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Impact assessment of industrial wastewater discharge in a river basin using interval-valued fuzzy group decision-making and spatial approach

Srinivas, R., Singh, Ajit Pratap
Environment, development and sustainability 2018 v.20 no.5 pp. 2373-2397
case studies, decision making, experts, fabrics, geographic information systems, groundwater, industrial wastewater, issues and policy, models, paper pulp, planning, pollutants, public health, rivers, tanneries, uncertainty, watersheds, Ganges River, India
Sustainable and integrated river basin planning and management is a complex process involving uncertain data at different stages of decision-making process. Moreover, there are multiple decision makers at different institutions with contrasting interests and objectives, and thus, a collaborative decision making is required to resolve the conflicts. Although the formulation or modeling of such problems under fuzzy framework provides a very strong ground to deal with the uncertain and complex judgments, there is scope to model the problem more accurately. The present study develops a novel approach of dealing with uncertainty associated with group decision making in a river basin, by extending fuzzy Delphi process using interval-valued fuzzy sets. A case study of assessing the impact of industrial wastewaters on the Ganges River basin, India, has also been presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology. A total of 33 industrial units, mainly paper pulp, tanneries and textiles, discharging massive quantities of wastewater in the Ganges River basin have been chosen for the analysis. These industries are rated by the expert decision makers to represent their objective judgments (and/or subjective preferences) on the basis of ten essential sets of criteria such as impact on river, impact on groundwater, critical pollutants level, impact on public health. The ratings are analyzed and aggregated using modified fuzzy decision-making approach, and industries are ranked accordingly. To enhance the decision-making process, the results are also represented spatially under GIS environment. Analysis of results clearly demonstrates the contribution of crucial indicators/criteria in ensuring the sustainable use of water resources with respect to environmental, social and economic dimensions. The results obtained are compared and validated with the recent research works and reports of pollution control boards. The study recommends several policy implementations, primarily revisal in prescribed effluent discharge standards of the industries. The model developed herein can be an efficient and productive tool for complex group decisions in water resources planning by facilitating participation and knowledge sharing among the experts.