G. Mathi Vathanan, Durgesh Nandini Sahoo and Elisa Patnaik Housing & Urban Development Department (H&UDD), State of Odisha, IndiaDownload story
With growing urbanization, sewage and septage have emerged as one of the biggest pollutants of water bodies in the urban areas of the State of Odisha in India. Absence of sewer networks in large parts of the State, lack of treatment facilities, open defecation and lack of regulatory mechanisms were among the major challenges contributing to the water contamination of the river systems. The Housing & Urban Development Department (H&UDD), Government of Odisha implemented a holistic, decentralized, inclusive and community-led wastewater management model combining a sewage system for large cities (>200,000 population) and Faecal Sludge & Septage Management (FSSM) for small and medium towns (<200,000 population) that helped in considerably reducing the water pollution caused disposal of faecal sludge and septage. The State created and operationalized 13 Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) in six bigger cities and 112 Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTPs) across all the 115 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). This along with adoption of appropriate (low-cost) technology and engagement of local community groups in the management of FSTPs as well as establishment of regulatory mechanisms together helped in containing the discharge of untreated human waste, thus reducing the degree of water pollution in the major river systems of the State. Institutional strengthening, capacity building, awareness generation and regular monitoring have also contributed to the wastewater management programme, positively impacting environment outcomes.
Consequently, water quality in 17 out of the total of 19 polluted rivers stretches have considerably improved and moved from the polluted to non-polluted category. This impressive reduction in the number of polluted rivers stretches within a span of five years is attributable to the above pollution abatement measures undertaken during the period 2017–2022. The Odisha state model has now emerged as a replicable, scalable and inclusive sanitation model which could be adopted by the low and middle-income countries and cities.