Training Programme on “Septage Management – Towards city wide sanitation” November 24-26, 2014, New Delhi

Septage’ refers to solid and liquid waste that accumulates in onsite sanitation systems (OSS) e.g. septic tanks. This has three main components – scum, effluent and sludge. It has an offensive odour, appearance and contains significant levels of grease, grit, hair, debris and pathogenic micro organisms. The construction and management of Onsite Sanitation Systems (OSS) is generally left to local practices and there is lack of holistic septage management.

Projections of urbanization trends points towards more numbers of households that are going to install septic tanks. This would magnify the existing problems in the Indian town and cities. The limited capacities and resources of urban local bodies (ULBs) have resulted in minimal regulation and maintenance of these systems. Due to lack of awareness of its impacts on environmental degradation and ill-effects on health it has not been a priority area.

The results of National Rating of 423 cities in 2009, by the Ministry of Urban Development, highlighted the need for an urgent action and improvement in terms of improving sanitation to make town /cities healthy and clean. Further in order to address the issue in a time bound manner the ministry also issued an advisory on septage management.

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The Ministry of Urban Development and has developed a ‘Capacity Building Scheme for Urban Local Bodies’ (CBULB) to develop knowledge, skills and attitude of city officials for the mainstreaming the reforms and best management practices through workshops, seminar, training, exposure visits.

A Training Programme on “Septage Management: Towards City Wide Sanitation” was organized by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) at their training Centre in New Delhi from November 24 – 26 2014. The aim of the training programme was to enhance the Capacity of city officials on city wide sanitation including septage management. The participants included officials working with ULBs and parastatal agencies of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha and Bihar.

Lesson Learned and relevance to planned K-Hub Activities

Ms. Paramita Datta Dey from the National Institute of Urban Affairs was invited to participate as a member of the Knowledge Hub that is also working on advocating onsite sanitation systems. The training helped in the following manner:

  • Improved understanding on the value chain related to septage management for achieving city wide sanitation

  • Understand the basics related to planning, designing and implementation of septage collection and treatment system including decentralized wastewater treatment and local (re)use

  • Updated knowledge on existing and upcoming policies/guidelines on septage management

This training has helped understand the issues in septage management in the other States through fellow participants. Some of the techniques covered in this course will help in influencing policy and advocating proper septage management. It also helped gain insights on the awareness programs needed for construction of septic tanks and proper disposal of septage.