A reputed public policy institute has sought to raise the pitch on safe sanitation by asking political parties to include the goal in their manifestos for the April-May Lok Sabha elections. Ahead of the polls, the city-based Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) has come out with several suggestions under 'Right to Safe Sanitation for All and At All Times,' stressing the need to take measures to ensure safe and total sanitation by 2024.
ASCI Director V Srinivas Chary said though India has made significant progress in enhancing access to toilets through provision of individual household latrines, public toilets and community toilets to make urban local bodies open defecation free, "sanitation is more than just building toilets." "It is a system that addresses human waste from generation to its treatment for reuse or safe disposal. Urban areas in India are facing the burden of indiscriminate disposal of untreated septage (feacal sludge evacuated from pit latrines and septic tank periodically) by unregulated private operators causing unprecedented degradation of environment and harm to public health," he said.
Feacal waste is several times more polluting than sewage and hence need immediate attention to protect public health and water bodies, Chary said. He pointed out that usage of toilets coupled with safe feacal sludge and sepage management are critical for better sanitation outcome and building liveable cities. It was noted that ASCI is working with Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India in developing and operationalising urban sanitation and faecal waste management policies and incentive schemes.
With the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ASCI has introduced Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants at Narsapur in West Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh and at Warangal in Telangana. All political parties need to prioritise urban sanitation especially feacal waste management to salvage population from public health crisis, according to him. "Flush and forget will no longer work in India cities. The waste from toilets - feacal waste - needs to be safely managed to prevent massive disease outbreak. It will hit our children, directly.
Waste should be recycled and upcycled to prevent water crisis and land shortages in cities. This calls for deep political will and budgetary support," Professor Chary told PTI. ASCI suggested that political parties in their manifestos pledge to enact the "Right to Safe Sanitation for All and At All Times", to ensure equitable sanitation, especially meeting the needs of women and girls, marginalised populations and the under-served living in slums and informal settlements.
Ensuring safe handling and treatment of human waste and waste water are among the suggestions by ASCI which urged political parties to prioritise safe sanitation-related issues in their manifestos. ASCI further suggested that there should be provision of menstrual hygiene management facilities in all public institutions, government offices, public toilets and cinema halls, among others.
(With inputs from agencies.)