World Water Day 2021: Valuing Water By Implementing Faecal Sludge And Septage Management And Eliminating Water Pollution

World Water Day 2021: Valuing Water By Implementing Faecal Sludge And Septage Management And Eliminating Water Pollution

World Water Day 2021: NDTV speaks to experts to understand the relationship between faecal waste and water pollution and how India can resolve the two crises
News, World Water Day Special
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World Water Day 2021: Valuing Water By Implementing Faecal Sludge And Septage Management And Eliminating Water PollutionWorld Water Day 2021: The theme for this year is ‘valuing water’
  • Overflow of faecal matter pollutes ground water
  • Regular desludging of septic tanks can eliminate water pollution: Expert
  • Hardly 10 per cent of the sewage generated is treated effectively: Expert

New Delhi: The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign launched in 2014 with an aim to make India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2, 2019 has gained huge momentum over the years. The campaign turned into a people’s movement (jan andolan) and the government did declare the country ODF as planned but what next? According to the experts, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 should focus on faecal sludge management and protect water bodies. On March 22, as the world celebrates World Water Day with a theme of ‘valuing water’, NDTV speaks to experts to understand the relationship between faecal waste and water pollution and how India can resolve the two crises.

Also Read: Thinking Beyond Toilets: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 Should Focus On Faecal Sludge Management, Experts Say That’s The Need Of The Hour

According to the World Economic Forum, India’s urban areas produce around 1.2 lakh tonnes of faecal sludge on a daily basis, and about two-thirds of the country’s households with toilets aren’t connected to the sewer system.

In a conversation with NDTV, Professor Meera Mehta, Executive Director of the Center for Water and Sanitation and a member of The National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) Alliance, explained how improper faecal waste management leads to water pollution. She said,

A large number of households in cities in India are dependent on on-site system (such as septic tank, pits) of waste management. In the absence of regular desludging of pits or septic tanks, there is an overflow of faecal matter which pollutes ground water. When pits are emptied, the faecal waste is dumped in water bodies, thereby polluting rivers and lakes. Faecal coliforms in ground and surface water affect the health of people and also affect crops grown with these water.

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

How Can India Make Faecal Sludge And Septage Management (FSSM) A Reality?

Additionally, Professor Srinivas Chary, Director, Centre for Energy, Environment, Urban Governance and Infrastructure Development at Administrative State College of India (ASCI), shared four key steps to eliminate water pollution arising out of improper faecal sludge management. He said,

Firstly, citizens should be made aware of the linkage between water and bad faecal waste management practices. Secondly, policy and regulations at the state and municipal levels have to be introduced and operationalized in letter and spirit, thirdly capacities of desludgers to safely handle the faecal waste needs to be prioritised and built, and fourthly, high quality treatment facilities, with a focus on pathogen kill, needs to be built in each municipality.

Also Read: Parameswaran Iyer From World Bank Shares The ‘ABCDEF’ Of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan And India’s ODF Journey

Sharing an example of successful FSSM from Wai and Sinnar in Maharashtra, Professor Dinesh Mehta, Executive Director of the Center for Water and Sanitation suggested ‘scheduled desludging’, that is emptying septic tanks or pits on a regular cycle of three to five years. Mr Mehta who is also a member of NFSSM Alliance said,

We at Centre for Water and Sanitation have demonstrated that scheduled desludging can be practiced in small towns. Over the two years period, we have tracked the quality of ground water and river water and found a significant reduction in faecal coliform. So, we should make it mandatory to have every pit or septic tank desludged and monitored regularly. Further, we must ensure that all the faecal waste emptied is properly treated.

Also Read: 43 People Have Died Due To Manual Scavenging This Year, Says Safai Karmachari Andolan’s Bezwada Wilson On Kaun Banega Crorepati

For faecal sludge management, the National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) was issued by the Ministry of Urban Development in February 2017. According to Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Senior Director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), there is a need to translate policy and focus on the entire sanitation chain. He said,

Various national programmes (Swach Bharat Mission, AMRUT, Jal Jeewan Mission, Atal Bhujal Mission and Namami Gange) need to ensure convergence at the city level. Each village or city should do mapping of excreta flows (prepare Shit Flow Diagrams – SFDs) and prepare City Sanitation Plan with focused action plan (short/medium/long term) for integrated faecal sludge and wastewater management. Each village or city should have stakeholder engagement to ensure citywide inclusive sanitation.

While talking about FSSM, Romit Sen, Associate Director, Water and Agriculture at the Institute for Sustainable Communities, drew focus on sanitation workers. Recently, the government had launched a programme, ‘manhole to machine hole’ which means all the cleaning of septage tanks or sewer lines will be done by machines and there will be no manual operation.

The aspect of the dignity of sanitation workers cannot be ignored while we talk to FSSM. Initiatives to ensure their safety need utmost priority as we are talking about the fundamental right to live and an adequate standard of living, said Mr Sen.

Also Read: Budget 2021: Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 Will Focus On Faecal Sludge Management, Says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Budget 2021: Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 Will Focus On Faecal Sludge Management

The central government’s commitment towards faecal sludge management was reflected in Union Budget 2021-22 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. In her budget speech, FM had said,

The government intends to focus on complete faecal sludge management and wastewater treatment, source segregation of garbage, reduction in single-use plastic. Reduction in air pollution, especially waste from construction and demolition, and bio-remediation of dumpsites.

Talking about the same, Mr Rohilla said, recognition of the need for wastewater treatment and FSM in the budget is a positive step but not sufficient if we look at the scale of sanitation challenge. Echoing the same, Meera Mehta said,

There is a need to look at the entire ecosystem of safely managed sanitation, including FSSM. So while the funds are made available to local governments, one will need to strengthen the capacity of a whole array of stakeholders – the desludgers, the engineers who design the treatment facilities, of local government that ensure operation and maintenance of facilities. We have to learn from the fact that half of the sewage treatment plants in this country are not functioning properly due to lack of proper maintenance, proper design, among others. Now that we are approaching this on a massive scale, we need to ensure that the entire ecosystem is properly developed.

Also Read: Promoted Under The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, A User Assesses The ‘Twin Pit’ Toilet Technology

Mr Sen believes that for effective solid and liquid waste management, programmes like AMRUT, Namami Gange Mission are being implemented but in addition to this, sustainable use of water is needed. He added,

We also need financially viable and effective technologies and solutions that will help in better treatment, perhaps at a lower cost. It is important that we realise that more than 80 per cent of the water we use comes out as waste. This also warrants attention and behaviour change on how as a user of water we are able to optimise our demand and not overuse water.

Mr Sen also called for promoting and incentivising circular water management, that allows the use treated wastewater for irrigation, non-potable use for our cities (horticulture, dust suppression) and industries (can be used for dust suppression, greening). Sharing some stark facts, shedding light upon the need for FSSM, Mr Sen said,

The fact is that while on one hand our wastewater treatment capacity has increased by about 2.5 times since 1978-79, on the other hand, hardly 10 per cent of the sewage generated is treated effectively, while the rest finds its way into the natural ecosystems and is responsible for large-scale pollution of rivers and groundwater.

Also Read: Rotary International Has Implemented Water, Sanitation And Hygiene Facilities In Over 30,000 Schools, Here’s How

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


Coronavirus has spread to 194 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 19,78,31,904 and 42,17,020 have died; 6,39,24,968 are active cases and 12,96,89,916 have recovered as on August 1, 2021 at 3:55 am.


3,16,55,824 41,831Cases
4,10,952 2,032Active
3,08,20,521 39,258Recovered
4,24,351 541Deaths
In India, there are 3,16,55,824 confirmed cases including 4,24,351 deaths. The number of active cases is 4,10,952 and 3,08,20,521 have recovered as on August 1, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

63,03,715 6,959

80,138 733

60,90,786 7,467

1,32,791 225


33,90,761 20,624

1,65,011 3,679

32,08,969 16,865

16,781 80


29,05,124 1,987

23,820 318

28,44,742 1,632

36,562 37

Tamil Nadu

25,59,597 1,986

20,716 218

25,04,805 2,178

34,076 26

Andhra Pradesh

19,66,175 2,058

21,180 18

19,31,618 2,053

13,377 23

Uttar Pradesh

17,08,441 31

712 17

16,84,973 48


West Bengal

15,28,019 769

11,113 58

14,98,770 819

18,136 8


14,36,265 58

581 1

14,10,631 56

25,053 1


10,02,008 102

1,863 102

9,86,621 203

13,524 1


9,77,268 1,578

14,538 389

9,56,828 1,899

5,902 68


9,53,667 17

248 6

9,44,465 22

8,954 1


8,24,877 27

252 8

8,14,549 35


Madhya Pradesh

7,91,828 22

122 1

7,81,193 21



7,69,913 29

712 0

7,59,566 27

9,635 2


7,24,835 44

457 1

7,14,735 45



6,44,951 621

9,069 72

6,32,080 691

3,802 2


5,99,104 51

534 10

5,82,277 60

16,293 1


5,66,198 989

13,322 510

5,47,616 1,480

5,260 19


3,47,173 36

252 8

3,41,793 44



3,42,139 116

632 13

3,34,145 129


Jammu And Kashmir

3,21,462 118

1,176 5

3,15,908 113


Himachal Pradesh

2,06,027 153

1,217 80

2,01,289 72

3,521 1


1,71,146 94

1,058 35

1,66,941 128

3,147 1


1,20,915 100

962 17

1,18,158 115

1,795 2


98,499 801

10,540 195

86,403 981

1,556 15


78,583 222

3,482 2

74,346 224



65,000 686

5,966 175

57,949 499

1,085 12


61,953 1

31 5

61,111 5

811 1

Arunachal Pradesh

48,122 266

3,954 188

43,939 451

229 3


38,925 861

12,388 213

26,387 643

150 5


27,872 159

1,329 55

25,977 99

566 5


26,548 237

3,400 98

22,804 137

344 2


20,338 10

56 6

20,075 4


Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,650 6

29 1

10,617 7



10,189 11

84 7

10,055 4


Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,537 2

8 0

7,400 2


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