Dangers of untreated sludge to Ganga

Published: October 23, 2018

A study done by the centre of science and environment iterates the need on why the government must go far ahead than just constructing toilets to ensure sanitation and hygiene. The study states that if more toilets and septic tanks are built without sewer systems it will do more harm than good.

Findings of the report

  • The study shows that in cities with a population over 10 lakh, such as Lucknow, Kanpur and Agra, the sewerage system covers 44% of the population and only 28% of that wastewater is safely treated. A third of the population is dependent on septic tanks which are connected to open drains and 4% of the population still defecate in the open. Overall, 44% of the waste generated is safely treated and managed.
  • In cities with a population between five and 10 lakh, more than 70% of the population is dependent on tanks connected to open drains and only half of them would actually qualify as septic tanks.
  • In cities with a population between 1.2 lakh and five lakh, only 9% of waste and sludge are safely managed while in the fourth cluster of cities whose populations are less than 1.2 lakh, that figure drops to a mere 4%.
  • Uttar Pradesh has an 80% coverage of toilets but the inefficient sanitation systems has resulted in almost 87% of the excreta being generated by these toilets being dumped in water bodies or agricultural lands.
  • With the due date to achieve open defecation free status round the corner the number of toilets and onsite sanitation systems being built in the State of UP is all set to increase exponentially. In the case of improper management of this fecal sludge, the amount of fecal sludge that these new toilets will generate will swamp the State.
  • Onsite sanitation systems such as septic tanks or pit latrines are far more prevalent, and are used by 47% of households. Building more toilets will only worsen the environmental, sanitation and manual scavenging situation, unless sewerage connections increase from the current 28% of households in the 30 cities studied.

With lack of designated site for disposal, the emptied faecal sludge ends up in open drains/nullahs/open fields, which eventually lead to polluting the Ganga and other rivers and surface water bodies.

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