Announces handing over of septage treatment plans to women’s collectives

Odisha takes pioneering step towards women empowerment

Bhubaneswar: In a path-breaking decision towards women empowerment and inclusive sanitation, the Government of Odisha today handed over the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of four Septage Treatment Plants (SeTPs) to Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in the State. The treatment facilities were handed over to women SHGs in Berhampur, Baripada and Sambalpur and to a transgender SHG in Cuttack through a contract agreement signed between the SHG and the ULBs at an event presided over by the Minister Panchayatiraj & DW ,Law, Housing and Urban Development Pratap Jena, held through video conference mode today.

Speaking on the occasion Sri Jena told that SHGs are now at the forefront of all development activities including sanitation in Odisha today and have proven their ability time and again. Women SHGs have been managing the operation and maintenance of community toilets very well across several cities in the State. Now we took this decision of handing over the O&M of SeTPs to the SHGs for better community ownership and participation . We are happy that the transgender & women SHGs have come up to the level of managing a Septage treatment facility which require technical and managerial skills which was earlier managed by engineers of the department , Minister Sri Jena added.

“Community managed sanitation infrastructure not only results in community ownership but also makes it more sustainable in the longer run,” said the Principal Secretary, H&UDD, Shri G. Mathi Vathanan on the novel initiative. “The SHGs have been chosen after careful evaluation of their capacities and past track record and have been trained thoroughly and rigorously on different aspects of O&M,” he said. The treatment plants were handed over to the SHGs through a service contract between the concerned Urban Local Body (ULB) and the SHGs. The ULBs will continue to provide technical and handholding assistance technical support shall continue to the SHGs during the agreement period to make the partnership successful. Odisha has been a frontrunner in Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) in the Country; with this initiative, it has now gone to another level of community management of sanitation facilities and building sustainable measures. Besides these current four cities, SHGs will also be engaged in the other functional as well as future SeTPs. This is possible due to the efforts of our team & its commitment to empower the vulnerable groups achieved through appropriate capacity& confidence building measures.

“It is a momentous event for the SHGs and all our members involved in this activity. We have  completed the training on the O&M of the plant and are really excited to take over the management,” said Swapna Rani Tripathy, a member of the Agrata City Level Federation (CLF) of SHGs that has taken over the O&M of the plant located in Mohuda in Berhampur. The selected group members are excited about this new business opportunity and proud of taking over the new responsibilities.

The SHGs will now be responsible for the daily O&M of the SeTPs which includes –managing the entry of all cesspool vehicles for discharging faecal sludge at the plant, regular treatment, minor repairs, upkeep of the plant and management of the staffs etc. The septage plants will also reuse the treated water and sludge by using the treated sludge as co-compost for the nursery set up near the plant and the waste water for watering the plants and lawns.

With more than 90 additional septage treatment plants coming up in the state by next year, and with more than 32,000 existing SHGs across 114 towns and cities, community engagement for operation and maintenance of sanitation facilities holds enormous potential.

Sangramjit Naik Dorector Muncipal Administration gave welcome address and Addl Director SUDA Sarda Panda proposed vote of thanks.