Connect with us

News

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

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

World

24,33,49,378Cases
20,48,57,171Active
3,35,48,605Recovered
49,43,602Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,33,49,378 and 49,43,602 have died; 20,48,57,171 are active cases and 3,35,48,605 have recovered as on October 24, 2021 at 3:48 am.

India

3,41,75,468 15,906Cases
1,72,5941,134Active
3,35,48,605 16,479Recovered
4,54,269 561Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,75,468 confirmed cases including 4,54,269 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,72,594 and 3,35,48,605 have recovered as on October 24, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,01,551 1,701

27,634 113

64,33,919 1,781

1,39,998 33

Kerala

49,06,793 8,909

81,155 335

47,97,409 8,780

28,229 464

Karnataka

29,85,598 371

8,943 23

29,38,653 341

38,002 7

Tamil Nadu

26,94,089 1,140

13,280 251

26,44,805 1,374

36,004 17

Andhra Pradesh

20,63,177 396

5,222 176

20,43,616 566

14,339 6

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,082 13

94 9

16,87,089 4

22,899

West Bengal

15,85,466 974

7,731 154

15,58,690 808

19,045 12

Delhi

14,39,566 40

334 6

14,14,141 46

25,091

Odisha

10,37,964 441

4,152 45

10,25,507 482

8,305 4

Chhattisgarh

10,05,827 28

230 16

9,92,025 12

13,572

Rajasthan

9,54,400 4

32 0

9,45,414 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,402 24

168 3

8,16,147 21

10,087

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,740 11

79 1

7,82,138 12

10,523

Haryana

7,71,141 8

115 7

7,60,977 15

10,049

Bihar

7,26,054 9

36 6

7,16,357 3

9,661

Telangana

6,70,139 207

3,984 21

6,62,209 184

3,946 2

Assam

6,08,450 324

3,968 102

5,98,515 219

5,967 3

Punjab

6,02,189 26

231 1

5,85,407 25

16,551

Jharkhand

3,48,592 30

202 19

3,43,255 11

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,815 16

169 3

3,36,248 13

7,398

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,566 72

862 8

3,26,275 80

4,429

Himachal Pradesh

2,22,569 257

1,578 95

2,17,257 161

3,734 1

Goa

1,77,852 33

574 26

1,73,920 58

3,358 1

Puducherry

1,27,674 53

457 3

1,25,362 48

1,855 2

Manipur

1,23,229 122

961 55

1,20,361 67

1,907

Mizoram

1,17,261 572

8,943 693

1,07,911 1,258

407 7

Tripura

84,384 8

101 3

83,467 5

816

Meghalaya

83,322 53

695 3

81,184 56

1,443

Chandigarh

65,321 1

27 1

64,474 2

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,089 14

142 1

54,667 13

280

Sikkim

31,868 26

195 12

31,279 13

394 1

Nagaland

31,707 18

250 5

30,778 12

679 1

Ladakh

20,899 3

38 2

20,653 5

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,679

4 0

10,671

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,648 2

8 2

7,511

129

Coronavirus Outbreak: Full CoverageTesting CentresFAQs

Highlights From The 12-Hour Telethon

Leaving No One Behind

Mental Health

Environment

Join Us