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Case Study IIR 2007

Community involvement makes waste water management a success story in a


Maharashtra village
Author: Dr SV Mapuskar
A large number of deaths in Indian villages occur due to diseases caused by poor sanitary
conditions. The Government of Maharashtra, in tandem with the Government of India (GoI),
has taken up intensive activities to improve the sanitation situation in villages in the state.
These activities are based on some key learning experiences from earlier programmes: that
providing sanitation facilities is not enough and communication activities aimed at changed
attitudes and behaviour, and the involvement of the community, are crucial elements for the
success of a holistic programme to achieve a clean village environment.
Dhamner village in Satara district of Maharashtra is an example of a success story of
community involvement. Located on the banks of river Krishna, Dhamner has an adequate
water supply year round. The village gets piped water supply at the rate of nearly 65 litres per
capita per day amounting to about 1,50,000 litres. Roughly 1,20,000 litres of waste water is
generated in the village each day. Earlier, this large quantity of waste water flowed freely
along the streets and lanes accumulating in cesspools. Mosquitos and flies bred freely. The
filthy and unhealthy environment in the village led to disease and an increase in morbidity. In
the year 2000, residents of Dhamner came together under a dynamic leadership and decided
to undertake measures to manage individual and community waste water with the goal of a
cleaner and healthier village.
It must be mentioned here that Dhamner had already been exposed to information, education
and communication (IEC) activities of Maharashtra government programmes like the Sant
Gadge Baba Swachhata Abhiyan which focused on the involvement of the community.
Government functionaries acted as facilitators while villagers were encouraged to decide and
set up sanitation facilities at their own expense. The programmes were supported financially
and in other ways through the governments Total Sanitation Campaign programme.
Dhamner residents were thus motivated for overall development which has resulted in total
sanitation coverage of the village as well as an efficient and low-cost system of waste
management.
The village has a population of 2,657 spread over a main village and three hamlets. There are
a total of 550 residential houses and a cattle population of 1000. The main village sits on a
small hillock from where the water flows in four different directions. From the main village,
the waste water earlier flowed directly into the Krishna river. In the hamlets, it accumulated
at multiple places in small cesspools. The streets and lanes in the villages were slushy due to
haphazardly flowing waste water.
At the Gram Sabha, villagers of Dhamner decided to take measures to hygienically and
productively manage sullage. It was decided to construct partially-covered roadside drains
and use RCC pipes where necessary. This system was established in the main village, where
almost all houses have now been connected to a drainage system. It was made mandatory for
each house to connect their domestic waste water to the community drain. A chamber was
provided between the house and the main drain and a grid placed at each opening between the
main drain and a household connection to stop materials like paper and plastics from entering
the drainage system. Due to the natural slope of the grounds round the village, the drainage
systems flow in four directions without need for pumping.
The sullage is collected at four low-lying points. At one point, an intercepting tank is in place
to stabilize the sullage. At the three other points, tanks are under construction. The stabilized
effluent has been utilized for developing gardens. The effluent from the first point is used to

Case Study IIR 2007

water a childrens park and playground. The effluent from the three other points is being used
for developing horticultural gardens and orchards.
Individual connections to the drains are maintained by the families and the community
drainage system by the Gram Panchayat. The pumping of the stabilized water at one point is
managed by the Gram Panchayat. At other points, the flow is gravitational. For the last four
years, the Gram Panchayat has not needed to spend any money for maintenance. The park
and horticultural gardens are maintained by womens self help groups and a youth club.
For the initial construction of the system, the total capital expenditure was Rs. 9,46,000. A
part of this was raised from contributions and voluntary labour by the local people. A major
share was provided from the Rajya Sabha members discretionary fund. In due course, the
village Panchayat is expected to earn Rs. 1,00,000 per year from the sale of the produce of
the orchards making waste water management a very viable and sustainable programme.
The success of villages waste water treatment and reuse system has encouraged exposure
visits from other villages in Maharashtra. With site-specific modifications, this project has a
very good replicability and sustainability. In fact, waste water management in Dhamner is a
commendable example of what can be achieved when there is community involvement,
collective efforts and dynamic leadership with the government acting as facilitator. The
technology used is low-cost, easily manageable and environment-friendly. In recognition of
its achievements, Dhamner village Panchayat received the Nirmal Gram Puraskar, a national
award for clean environment, in 2005.