HYDERABAD: The 2017 Bollywood movie Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, starring Akshay Kumar, illustrated the need to have clean sanitation solutions and needless to say, the movie was not just a blockbuster, but it also managed to help change the psyche of rural Indians towards finding solutions to sanitation problems.
However, not many know that the toilet is actually the starting point of a large supply chain of waste management and India is barely equipped to tackle this. Have you ever thought of what happens to the tonnes of human fecal waste generated every day across India? Where is it finally channelised and dumped? Is it being disposed off safely or just being transported to another place where nobody really cares, but it is actually the starting point of disease and infections?
Warangal district, incidentally, is one of the few districts that has managed to give a thought to this problem and fortunate enough to be chosen for a project which provided a complete 360-degree sanitation system. Yes, from the toilet to the final conversion of the biowaste to biochar, the process adopted by Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation (GWMC) is scientific and comprehensive.A day-long field trip for the Telangana media, organised by Hyderabad-based Administrative Staff College of India (the project’s knowledge partner) to the Sanitation Resource Park at Ammavaripet, about 10 km from Warangal Corporation, in February 2019 put things in perspective for all of us.
The second largest city in Telangana, with a population of 0.8 million, Warangal’s administration took up the sanitation challenge to ensure the waste collected in the corporation is swiftly, safely and hygienically disposed to make sure there are no gaps. V Srinivas Chary, Director, Centre for Energy, Environment, Urban Governance, and Infrastructure Development, and Y Malini Reddy, Associate Professor in Urban Governance Area of ASCI, deconstructed the process and the mechanism. Municipal Commissionner Ravi Kiran said with the process now in place, they are also looking at having She Toilets (modern, clean toilets with amenities like sanitary pad dispenser and garbage incinerator) and also a toilet for the transgenders.
Explaining the waste management system, Chary says, “Sanitation Resource Park is where the action happens. About 65 trucks go around the city to collect the solid waste using suction pipes from the local septic tanks. The trucks then download the waste material into a tank, where after a preliminary process, non-sludge is separated. Typically, this could consist of shampoo packets to sanitary pads to condoms. All these are filtered out. Then it moves to the next phase where the water is separated and the leftover sludge undergoes a couple of more procedures to finally turn into a powdery form, called biochar.” Hyderabad-based Banka BioLoo has partnered with them to carry out the operations. Interestingly, the water residue is purified and can be used for gardening, flushing, etc. It is also impressive to note that although fecal material is at the core of the process, there is no malodour in or around the Sanitation Resource Park. “The processes are scientific and of international standards. Almost 5,000 litres of sludge is generated every day. This mechanism ensures that the process is clean and fast and most importantly, environmentally friendly,” the ASCI duo add.
“While the project is working smoothly since its inception four months ago, we are trying to create awareness among the citizens as well. So we have a dedicated toll free number (18004251980) and named the unhygenic monster as ‘Malasoora’ and citizens can report to us any irregularities in cleaning, etc. We also have given safety gear for truck operators and they have been given training on how to handle the waste,” adds Chary.
Interventions focussed across the FSM value chain on equitable and inclusive access to sanitation
Access: Construction of new household toilets, public toilets on PPP and SHE toilets.
Containment: Conversion of insanitary toilets to sanitary toilets, containment as per scientific design standards.
Transport: Empanelled desludging operators being monitored through ICT tools, submitted proposal and planning implementation of scheduled desludging.
Treatment: Operationalised 15 KLD FSTP based on thermal process (pyrolysis). Building 10 KLD pilot FSTP based on bio-digester technology. Adding additional capacity of 150KLD for city-wide implementation of scheduled desludging.
Institutional strengthening and capacity building: Established a non-sewer sanitation cell headed by the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) focussed on implementing and sustaining FSM interventions. Organised training programmes and study tours for NSS cell members. Empowering sanitation workers through initiatives focused on safety, well-being and livelihoods.
Behavioural Change Communication (BCC):Developing new and innovative campaign strategies for FSM with the help of partners – BBC Media Action.
Monitoring and evaluation: Developed ICT tools to monitor utilisation of PTs, disposal of sewage by desludging operators, S-Line – to drive construction of household toilets and conversion of insanitary toilets to sanitary toilets.
Community Engagement: Reconstituted City Sanitation Task Force (CSTF), a multi-stakeholder platform to drive and sustain sanitation interventions. CSTF has a gender sub-committee with women leaders and representatives of the third gender to ensure equitable access to sanitation and women empowerment. Commitment from corporates; to fund STP in a government social housing project for the urban poor and for WASH and MHM initiatives in schools
Innovation: Developed a soap bank, a crowd-sourced platform for creating a soap repository to be used by children in government schools for hand washing, promoting workers’ safety and well being
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