Most Indian cities are plagued with poor sanitary conditions(unsafe disposal of human feaces and solid waste, poor drainage, inadequate treatment facilities), creating an imminent public health and environmental disaster, and an immediate sub human existence for the residents of slums and informal settlements. There is an emphasis on high tech and high cost Centralized treatment solutions for sanitation, waste water and solid waste. With little or no consideration for O&M costs, affordability and paying capacity of residents and ULBs. States and cities having larger financial outlays and resources, prioritize centralized sewerage and solid waste treatment solutions to decentralized solutions as state policy. Water scarcity alone is forcing some cities and states to adopt decentralized solutions to urban sanitation.
A commitment to decentralized systems and solutions for urban sanitation at scale is only now breaching the consciousness of some states and cities. State para state agencies in most states resist adoption of decentralized sanitation and waste treatment solutions. Private sector too is accustomed to large contracting works for Sewage Treatment Plants(STPs), they lack interest in engaging and contracting for decentralized sanitation systems. Advocacy and capacity building for decentralized sanitation solutions, is critical for changing the discourse and adoption of decentralized treatment solutions. SCBP will integrate capacity building and advocacy at national level with technical assistance for town level support and research in a few states. Strengthening formal institutional collaboration and partnerships for decentralised sanitation solutions will be a core strategy of SCBP.
In the last one year however there are winds of change. Following the adoption of the National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Policy 2017, several states have come forward to take up Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment. Odisha is setting up of FSTPs in many towns of the state, Andhra Pradesh has invited bids for 33 Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants, UP for 37 FSTPs and several other states are getting ready to put decentralized septage treatment plants in many more towns. Different technology options ranging from DEWATS to Thermal and Membrane based technologies are being tried out.
Working under the broad aim of strengthening capacity building for decentralised urban sanitation solutions, SCBP has three broad Objectives ;
- Improved Awareness, Knowledge and Skills of State governments and Urban Local Bodies staff, to plan and implement decentralised sanitation solutions
- Institutional Strengthening (of Training Institutes, Academia and Private sector), for supporting capacity building for FSSM at scale
- Evidence based Research and Advocacy to address urban sanitation challenge