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World Toilet Day 2020: Building Toilets Doesn’t Mean Total Sanitation, There Are Many Goals India Needs To Meet, Says Expert From Centre For Science and Environment

As India gears up for World Toilet Day with the theme Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change, NDTV speaks with Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Director – Water Programme, Centre for Science and Environment to know what is the status of sanitation in India and what the country should focus next

World Toilet Day 2020: Building Toilets Doesn’t Mean Total Sanitation, There Are Many Goals India Needs To Meet, Says Expert From Centre For Science and Environment
Highlights
  • World Toilet Day is observed on November 19
  • This year, the theme is Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change
  • India’s next big focus should be on managing human waste: Expert

New Delhi: November 19 is marked as World Toilet Day across the globe. In 2013, the United Nations adopted the day to educate the billions who are affected due to the bad sanitation practices like open defecation.  Every year, the day is celebrated with a unique theme and this year the theme is in reference of climate change as it is getting worse over the years – Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change. The day aims to raise awareness about sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change and keep communities healthy and functioning.

As India gears up to mark the World Toilet Day, we speak to Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Director – Water Programme, Centre for Science and Environment to know about current sanitation scenario in India and the road ahead.

Also Read: World Toilet Day 2020: All You Need To Know About The Theme And Significance

NDTV: Internal target of Open Defecation Free target has been achieved BY for India, what’s the next thing in sanitation our country should focus on?

Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla: We have achieved the targets set by the ministry and government in terms of numbers of toilet and facilities in the phase one of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, however, now is the real challenge that starts. The challenge in front of us now is that how do we sustain the efforts that have been done in phase one of the campaign. How do we make sure that the assets and infrastructure which we call toilets will be used by people across the country at all point of time. We need to look at the additional facilities such as water supply, piped sewer lines and more. Water and toilets go hand-in-hand, if the water supply in areas or cities is not there then how will we make sure that the toilets are being used. If it is not there, then people will go out in the open and contaminate the soil or water resources such as rivers, secondly, water is not just essential for using toilets, it is essential for cleaning purposes as well. So, the overall question now is only on sustaining the efforts of phase one of the campaign.

Toilet is only one small part of sanitation, which ensures that the person doesn’t have to go and defecate in the open and has more private and safer place. This is where sanitation starts from but there are other streams to it as well – such as what happens to the liquid and solid waste inside the toilet, how do we manage that and ensure that it doesn’t go out and pollute our environment. Until all the parts of sanitation are met, we cannot say we have achieved total sanitation.

NDTV: What do we mean by solid and liquid waste management and why it should be the next big focus for the country?

Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla: There are two things which happens in our country in terms of toilet and sanitation, one approach is a twin-pit toilet where nothing comes out in terms of waste as the pit is attached to the toilet, which helps treat the waste and convert it into manure. This is the toilet approach which is used in areas where there is less water supply, so there is nothing called environment degradation in those toilets. However, second and the most used approach in our country is the septic tank toilets which are your flush-based toilets, WHICH where uses on average 10-12 litres of water and as high as 20-litres of water for flushing the waste. In such systems, there are two streams where the primary treatment happens for the waste – one is where the human waste gets accumulated and then gets decomposed and the other is where the black water or the excess water goes, the overflow of that water flows into the small nallis which are there in every areas, if it is not connected to the proper sewer system.

However in many of our smaller cities, villages and areas there is nothing called a sewer system, as a result all this flows into open big nallas which we see adjacent to the roads many a times. The water which comes out from the toilets is very contaminated and therefore it needs to be treated then and there but in most of the Indian cities the sewer lines are not well connected and as a result it gets accumulated in the small drains of the area or cities, thereby causing harm to human health at large. The word septic in layman terms comes from medical sciences, if there is some injury and we say it is septic, meaning it is so lethal that it can only be fixed with some sort of surgery or ammunition. Same is with our sewage system – the waste coming out of our toilets is contaminated so badly that it needs to be fixed or treated then and there, if we don’t do so, it harms environment and overall human health.

Right now, we need to look at these areas and come out with sustainable solutions which can be adopted across the country.

Also Read: WASH Warrior: Meet 45-Year-Old Ganesh Nagle, Who Is Ensuring His Fellow Slum Dwellers In Bhopal Are Not Deprived Of Sanitation Facilities

NDTV: What are the current challenges in India when it comes to solid and liquid waste management?

Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla: Currently, one of the biggest problem that is hampering our way forward towards solid and liquid management is the fact the way toilets are constructed in our country. Here not all toilets are constructed as per the standard guidelines or by the protocols and are majorly constructed as per the availability of land or owners need. Even the septic tanks are not constructed as per the Code – which basically involves technical guidelines. The second issue is that our masons or technicians are not that well trained – they don’t know the basic protocols they need to keep in mind while making the inside or the backside of toilets.

NDTV: What are the immediate steps India should look at in bid to solve the human waste crisis?

Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla: On an urgent basis, authorities need Feacal Sludge Management plan of action. This waste will continue to come out of the houses at all point of time, so we need innovations and solutions to treat it as well. Secondly, we need to manage the liquid waste which is called the black water along with the solid waste. Post the independence, we have not been able to get proper sewer lines in more than  300-400 odd cities and we have around 8,000 urban cities. So, ideally, we need on priority a fix for this, we need some plan of action and targets in place so that the basics of waste management, which we know will come out oF  houses every now and then sorted. Thirdly, we should be looking at sustainable and eco-friendly solutions for septic tanks and all things related to human waste management. Just like we had innovations and solutions for toilets, now our country needS it for facilities behind the toilet that will manage the waste from toilets. Fourth is we need one basic guideline for building toilets and its septic tanks as this will ensure that the human excreta is getting managed well and is well connected with the areas sewer lines.

Currently, there are also small programmes being run that caters to different aspects of sanitation such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, AMRUT or Smart Cities Programmes, now is the need for all these programmes to converge, we need one programme that specifically caters to all the areas of sanitation – toilets, water supply, sewer networks, manual scavenging, Solid and Liquid management plants or FSPs.

NDTV: How can India protect its sanitation workers?

Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla: Mostly, sanitation workers, even in the big cities doesn’t get proper protective gear, so we can imagine what happens to the workers in the villages or smaller areas. What India needs is a system like construction sector in place, just like no worker working in the construction industry, for example the Delhi Metro Corporation only, they hire a lot of private constructors for the metro activities, but no worker we see ever is without the protective gear, because that sector has a very different and set guidelines in place for the workers. We need something like that in the sanitation industry, anybody engage in any stage of sanitation activities – maybe mason, plumber or a person in-charge of desludging activities or doing operations in sewer treatment or FSPs, authorities need to make sure, all workers have access to all kind of protective gears and they should simultaneously ensure that the workers use the gears as well.

Secondly, all the workers engage in sanitation sectors should have access to regular health check-ups and basic knowledge and information on how they can safeguard themselves from the possible diseases from the kind of work they do.

NDTV: World Toilet Day theme this year is ‘Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change’, we want to know the relationship and how does toilet help fight climate change?

Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla: There is no direct relationship between toilets and climate change, however, there is an indirection and more important relationship between the two. Sanitation and water is a local subject, the more you use toilets, more water will be extract through electro-mechanical systems and for that you will need energy and these energy emissions will lead to carbon emissions, which will have an impact on the environment. Secondly, if there is a disaster in place due to climate change for example floods then there will be a huge hygiene crisis as well. Floods have now become a common problem of our country, we are seeing it in many big cities for example in Hyderabad, Patna and Chennai. So, the question comes what happens to the sewer systems, toilets of the cities – are the resilient enough to handle the flood, are the made in such a way that it can handle the disaster and finally a question comes what happens to the sewer lines waste which are contaminated with human excreta and waste. If the flood starts to carry the waste across then it will become a big hygiene issue, so now we need to start thinking in those direction and equip our facilities to fight climate change.

Also Read: How Bhopal’s Decentralised Water Access Is Providing Adequate Handwashing Infrastructure During COVID-19 Pandemic

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

World

26,78,24,983Cases
22,84,48,447Active
3,40,97,388Recovered
52,79,148Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,78,24,983 and 52,79,148 have died; 22,84,48,447 are active cases and 3,40,97,388 have recovered as on December 9, 2021 at 3:47 am.

India

3,46,66,241 9,419Cases
94,742 1,009Active
3,40,97,388 8,251Recovered
4,74,111 159Deaths
In India, there are 3,46,66,241 confirmed cases including 4,74,111 deaths. The number of active cases is 94,742 and 3,40,97,388 have recovered as on December 9, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,40,888 893

9,964 157

64,89,720 1,040

1,41,204 10

Kerala

51,78,892 5,038

41,615 887

50,95,263 4,039

42,014 112

Karnataka

29,99,098 399

7,284 155

29,53,565 238

38,249 6

Tamil Nadu

27,32,648 703

7,946 36

26,88,142 728

36,560 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,74,217 181

2,011 3

20,57,749 176

14,457 2

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,502 10

139 7

16,87,452 3

22,911

West Bengal

16,20,803 574

7,576 0

15,93,659 568

19,568 6

Delhi

14,41,514 65

404 28

14,16,010 36

25,100 1

Odisha

10,50,760 255

1,931 11

10,40,403 264

8,426 2

Chhattisgarh

10,07,075 37

341 9

9,93,140 27

13,594 1

Rajasthan

9,54,984 40

236 16

9,45,792 24

8,956

Gujarat

8,27,873 67

417 45

8,17,361 22

10,095

Madhya Pradesh

7,93,288 14

140 1

7,82,619 13

10,529

Haryana

7,71,904 29

223 15

7,61,626 14

10,055

Bihar

7,26,259 9

36 6

7,14,133 3

12,090

Telangana

6,77,546 205

3,871 19

6,69,673 185

4,002 1

Assam

6,18,042 134

2,541 24

6,09,374 158

6,127

Punjab

6,03,578 22

350 0

5,86,614 20

16,614 2

Jharkhand

3,49,383 16

129 7

3,44,113 23

5,141

Uttarakhand

3,44,402 17

192 3

3,36,799 14

7,411

Jammu And Kashmir

3,38,198 151

1,639 38

3,32,070 111

4,489 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,27,753 69

722 14

2,23,174 81

3,857 2

Goa

1,79,307 65

441 37

1,75,478 28

3,388

Mizoram

1,37,377 320

3,049 10

1,33,819 309

509 1

Puducherry

1,29,128 23

230 1

1,27,022 22

1,876

Manipur

1,25,429 23

325 5

1,23,119 28

1,985

Tripura

84,888 14

94 11

83,968 3

826

Meghalaya

84,631 12

240 11

82,916 23

1,475

Chandigarh

65,515 7

67 2

64,628 5

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,298 3

29 2

54,989 5

280

Sikkim

32,390 8

200 2

31,785 6

405

Nagaland

32,143 1

116 2

31,328 3

699

Ladakh

21,749 14

230 17

21,304 31

215

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,683

0 0

10,679

4

Lakshadweep

10,405

11 0

10,343

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,691 1

3 0

7,559 1

129

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