To achieve the target of “Open defecation free India”, the government increased focus on toilets with sludge and septage management in the recent budget. In this light, mention various government measures and policies to achieve this. Also mention the challenges in achieving the target.
UN reported that 65,000 tonnes of untreated faeces are introduced into the environment in India annually. Sludge and septage can lead to surface water and groundwater pollution. It leads to spreading of pathogens into the environment and causes adverse public health impact.
In the Budget 2020, the Government allocated 12,300 crores for Swach Bharat. As a part of this, the government wants to ensure 100 percent disposal of liquid waste. It further aims to focus on faecal sludge management (FSM), especially in rural areas
Various measures taken by the Government to deal with Sludge and septage management:
- National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Policy, 2017 facilitates nationwide implementation of FSSM services in all urban local bodies and to set priorities, and direction for safe and sustainable sanitation in every household in India.
- Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013: It further prohibits dry latrines and other forms of insanitary latrines.
- Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Odisha have released State-wide septage management guidelines and taken concrete steps to execute this policy which has to be followed by other States. States which lack desludging vehicles have planned to procure vehicles for their urban local bodies or encouraging private players to get into this may be correct step
- DRDO has developed Bio-digesterswhich are used to provide 80 per cent treatment of black water from individual and cluster households, or institutional buildings where there is no sewerage network.
Challenges while implementing target:
- Insufficient infrastructure: But only 40% households with a toilet facility are connected to a piped sewer network.
- Inadequate Technology in treating fecal waste.
- Inadequacy in the implementation and enforcement of regulations worsens the problem. In addition, it also raising manual scavenging in India
Measures to be taken:
Effective Septic and sludge management will have multiple benefits from health to economy and even social upliftment. So, following needs to be done
1) Local bodies should take concrete measures because public health and sanitation is a part of the ‘constitutional responsibility’ of the municipalities under the 12th schedule of the Constitution.
2) Construction of Bio-toilet (aerobic) that make use of aerobic digestion involving multiple strains of bacteria that break down waste matter through oxidation.
3) Should increase Emptying i.e., the process of extracting faecal sludge/septage from onsite sanitation systems.
Government and all the stakeholders should come together which will help us in achieving SDG 2030, goal 6 i.e. access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation.