Exposure: Officials from Leh, India visit the 9th World Urban Forum in Malaysia
26 July 2018
Nature-based solutions for waterbody rejuvenation: a perspective on holistic & sustainable approaches
22 August 2019

A municipal perspective on FSM in Devanahalli, India

In a February 2019 interview, Mr. M. Murthy, President of Devanahalli Town Municipal Corporation talks about the changes brought about by the town's faecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP), its social acceptance and the outlook for future operations.

Have you seen any changes after the installation of the FSTP in Devanahalli in 2016?

The FSTP was instrumental for our town to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. 90% of house- holds were toiletless. We have motivated every one of them to utilise the support of Swachh Bharat Mis- sion (SBM), the State Government of Karnataka, and a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) intervention to construct a toilet with a pit. Before, women had to spend time in search of outdoor places to relieve themselves. Their dignity and privacy were at stake. After the toilet construction, women feel safer.

What is the outlook for financing FSTP operations?

We are covering all FSTP operation and maintenance costs, but need to raise more funds to keep it running. We have not levied taxes or charges on Devanahalli town residents, but there is increased awareness. We will seek public opinion on options for public funding and make provision for that in upcoming annual budgets. Presently residents pay 800–1000 rupees (about 10–12 euros) per desludging. In due course we will be able to offer this service free of charge, pending budget revisions.

Can you elaborate on the social acceptance?

Initially, local farmers raised objections to the planned FSTP as they assumed there would be an odour. Through continuous interaction and awareness creation, we were able to convince them of the opposite and they finally gave permission for the plant’s construction. After completion of the FSTP, which includes further treatment of dried sludge to a co-compost, the same farmers are demanding to buy the fertiliser since it is not only cheaper but also better.

How do you see the future of sanitation for all in Devanahalli and beyond?

We are facing a water problem. It is not only about having access to freshwater but also being able to reuse available water. Installing underground drainage means digging up the roads, which is extremely costly. FSM is a simple alternative. Devanahalli has become famous because of the FSTP. People from all over the world are still coming and getting exposure to it. If every town installs an FSTP to treat their wastewater and faecal sludge through nature-based solutions and starts using the treated wastewater, the demand for scarce freshwater may go down. That will have a positive impact on sanitation and public health.

The BORDA publication Faecal Sludge Management (FSM): Inclusive citywide sanitation services (6MB PDF), produced for the 2019 FSM5 conference, includes this interview and an overview of our work in Devanahalli and Leh and in other cities around the world.

In a February 2019 interview, Mr. M. Murthy, President of Devanahalli Town Municipal Corporation talked about the changes brought about by the town’s faecal sludge treatment plant (FSTP), its social acceptance and the outlook for future operations

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