Swachh Bharat: Building toilets was step one, containing and disposing of waste must be next

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Published: October 3, 2019 5:32:15 PM

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the country open-defecation free on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, a large number of toilets even in the urban areas are still not connected to sewers

Global Goalkeeper, Global Goalkeeper award, PM Modi, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Melinda Gates, bill gates, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, cleanliness mission, india newsPrime Minister Narendra Modi was recently awarded by Bill Gates for Swachh Bharat Mission. (Photo: Twitter/ @narendramodi)

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the country open-defecation free on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, a large number of toilets even in the urban areas are still not connected to sewers, making the waste end up in open water and open land. With over 1 lakh tonne of faecal sludge generated every day, drinking water and other food sources are vulnerable to the human waste as about 60% of the waste is untreated, World Economic Forum reported. “Much of the sanitation conversation has focused on practices like open defecation or the absence of functioning toilets, but we need to recognize the complicated and necessary value chain that drives the sanitation system,” the report said, adding that containment, disposal and end use of waste are also areas that need to be addressed.

Bridging the sanitation gap

Even when private players have been attempting to fill the capacity gap between dumping and processing human waste, they are largely unmonitored. The need is to commercialize sanitation services for a responsible dumping and a better urban planning for connecting toilets with efficient sewage systems, WEF said. “India needs a sanitation market in which Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in cities can give septic tank operators access to all treatment plants, where tank operators can be trained and offered formal employment opportunities,” the report said added. Further, the administrators must also look into roping technology so that the waste can be converted into energy.

Meanwhile, the Gates foundation, established by world’s second richest man Bill Gates and his partner Melinda Gates, is funding a municipal sewage treatment program run by Patna, Bihar, Population Services International (PSI). According to another WEF report, the program has helped in reducing about 25% of human waste that would have otherwise ended up in open areas. The PSI is now taking the pilot to other states of the country as well.

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