India needs to move beyond the current drive for open defecation-free cities and work towards faecal sludge management for a safe urban environment without any risk to land and rivers, said an expert in the field.
"To achieve comprehensive urban sanitation services, India needs to move beyond the current drive for open defecation-free cities. It must start working towards faecal sludge management (FSM) for a safe urban environment without any risk to our land and rivers," Puneet Srivastava, policy manager at WaterAid India, told PTI.
On discharge of untreated sewage into water bodies as well as septic tanks, pit latrines and open defecation that pollute groundwater and surface water, he said, "We see effective faecal sludge management by urban local bodies, municipalities and government agencies, in collaboration with the civil society, academic institutions and the private sector, as the way forward."
WaterAid India is currently involved in capacity building of the Centre through the National Fecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) Alliance and helping state governments in developing policies on FSM, said Srivastava.
When pointed out that of about 38,000 million litres per day (mld) of sewage generated in India, the existing treatment capacity is for about 12,000 mld (32 per cent) in all the metropolitan cities, he said, "Most of our sewage treatment plants (STPs) are severely under-utilised due to the absence or poor functionality of sewerage networks.