Review of Household Use of Septic Tanks and Fecal Sludge Management in Rural India

SLH Rapid Action Learning Papers
September 2017

Septic Tanks (ST) are scientifically designed structures used for primary treatment of liquid waste with settleable solids. In India, Bureau of Indian Standards provided the specifications for the construction of an ST. However, ST can produce second generation problems either due to faulty construction or careless treatment of fecal sludge. A qualitative study was carried out across eight states in the country to explore the implementation of septic tanks in the rural villages.

The study found that while villager’s social class, availability of space, and finances influence the adoption of ST, their perception of ST affect its type and design. STs with no soak pit and non-cemented bottom are common which has environmental and health impacts. Effluent pipes connected to drains contaminate fresh water sources leading to fecal contamination of water supplies, and disease outbreaks. Similarly, open dumping of fecal sludge is regular. Even though, Twin Pits are promoted under SBM-G, in states like Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, etc. ST is widespread. The study, therefore, recommends state intervention in retrofitting the existing STs, developing a protocol for fecal sludge management and creating awareness among the masons for applying the correct designs.

Additional details

PublisherInstitute of Development Studies
RegionSouth Asia

Ganesan, P. (2017) ‘Review of Household use of Septic Tanks and Fecal Sludge Management in Rural India’, Rapid Topic Review, Brighton: IDS


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