No city can be termed truly 'smart' without an effective sewage management system, a green body today said as it underlined the need for framing a proper sanitation plan for towns intended to become "smart" under the government's smart cities mission.
"Ensuring a clean India goes way beyond just wielding broomsticks and sweeping visible garbage off the streets of our cities. It is imperative to also address the issue of the sewage and sludge that is invisible and that flows beneath the ground we walk upon, in our drains and into our water bodies.
"This is also important in the context of the government's Smart Cities Mission. No city can be termed truly 'smart' without an effective sewage management system," CSE said in a statement.
Stating only a third of city dwellers in urban India are connected to piped-sewage system, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that implementing agencies "lack knowledge and capacity" to take informed decisions.
The body also brought together some of the country's key decision makers, managers and regulators at its 'Regional conclave and workshop on preparing city sanitation plans and effective septage and faecal sludge management.
"Capacity building of public institutions on robust operating models and in some cases with new approaches to sanitation planning will help cities to focus attention, investments and efforts towards holistic city-wide sanitation planning.
"Septage management and decentralised wastewater treatment options that can be undertaken by institutions and individuals for sustainable water management is the pragmatic way forward to tackle this issue," said Sunita Narain, DG CSE.
Noting that there is "alarming" mismanagement of water and waste across urban centres of India, CSE said that there is an urgent need to build knowledge and achieve sustainable sanitation.
This includes knowledge enhancement and capacity building on sanitation diagnostics, city sanitation planning and decision making and analysis of cost effective and sustainable wastewater treatment technologies for mainstreaming faecal sludge or septage management, it said.