Conference • Deepening Local Governance for Sustainable Management of Solid and Liquid Waste in Small Towns in India

April 26, 2022 @ 9:00 AM - April 27, 2022 @ 4:00 PM
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Polluted water bodies have become the norm rather than exception in urban India due to the release of untreated sewage, effluents, and solid waste. Conventional solutions are constrained by high capital and energy costs that are more pronounced in small and medium towns; having huge infrastructure deficits with respect to solid/wastewater management since they lack technical, financial, and institutional capability to establish conventional centralised treatment systems. The National Urban Sanitation Policy-2008 also challenges the sustainability of these conventional solutions in terms of financial, environmental and social sustainability.


The Water and Sanitation Study Group at the Ashank Desai Center for Policy Studies (ADCPS) and the Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), IIT Bombay, in the last decade has critically reviewed several of these conventional interventions in varied contexts. This shows that the engineering designs aimed to solve the sanitation problems with a pre-set solution do not align with the city’s capacity and context. Although there is no dearth of experience, expertise and knowledge in alternative non-networked models, there is limited traction on the ground, and even if practised, they are considered intermediary solutions. 


To explore alternatives, with the support of the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA), ADCPS initiated a bottom-up process of understanding the interrelated problems of sanitation and solid waste in Alleppey, Kerala, in 2017 under the CANALPY initiative ( Once struggling with the solid waste management problem, Alleppey town is considered a pioneer in successfully experimenting and implementing a decentralized solid waste management model. CANALPY, a transdisciplinary initiative to demystify ‘science’, relied upon students from national and local academic institutions across the country through Winter and Summer School programmes. Drawing knowledge from various disciplines, we developed, tested, and validated  methodologies and protocols for water, sanitation, and flood risk assessment through CANALPY. Consequent to assessing the situation in Alleppey from these studies, there was successful implementation of a decentralised liquid waste (DEWATS) management plant in the town’s municipal colony. CANALPY is also helping the municipality devise plans and organise awareness and capacity building initiatives for the co-production of environmental services towards a circular economy of waste management. 


Broadly, our research group strives to analyse the policy process of water and sanitation at three levels: Centre, State and the Local. This layered analysis helps to understand the scope and challenges of moving towards a circular economy regime in solid and liquid waste management. We have also explored the linkages between urban flooding and sanitation that revealed how inadequate WASH infrastructure exacerbates flood risk and results in differential impacts of floods.  All these experiences highlight the significance of engagement of academia with other actors for co-producing knowledge for addressing critical challenges in the WASH sector. 


With the two-fold aim to share our work, experience, and interventions and learn from knowledge communities in the water and sanitation space, we are organizing a conference titled, “Deepening Local Governance for Sustainable Management of Solid and Liquid Wastes in Small Towns in India” on 26 and 27 April 2022. This conference is in collaboration with our partners, the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex, UK. You are cordially invited to the conference. 


Find the link to the detailed schedule here.


April 26, 2022 @ 9:00 AM
April 27, 2022 @ 4:00 PM
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Seminar Hall, SOM
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