Abhijeet Bapat

Sanitation Changemaker

Transforming Satara: A Journey to Sustainable Sanitation and Civic Empowerment

In the bustling city of Satara, the Chief Officer of the Municipal Council, Mr. Abhijeet Bapat, has been at the forefront of a remarkable journey. His vision for Satara transcends traditional sanitation efforts and has transformed the city into a shining example of sustainable waste management, while fostering community involvement and empowerment.

Satara, known as the capital of the Marathas, has a rich historical background and a thriving population of one lakh eighty thousand. The sanitation journey in Satara began with a vision: to provide cost-effective human waste treatment solutions that balance technology with nature. Their sanitation odyssey commenced when Satara was declared an Open Defecation Free City in 2014, coinciding with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launch. However, Mr. Bapat and his team aimed for much more. They focused on natural treatments, particularly composting, to make human waste management both sustainable and affordable. This approach relieved the city council of undue financial pressure.

The provision of individual toilets under various government initiatives and the Swachh Bharat Project significantly improved sanitation and hygiene. Over a thousand families availed themselves of personal toilet schemes, enhancing the city's Open Defecation Free status. The process wasn't without hurdles. Challenges of space and finances were confronted head-on. Yet, Satara overcame these challenges with innovative approaches, such as community-built toilets. The city's dedicated team provided technical assistance and made sure funds were available to people, enabling them to build their toilets with ease.

Satara's commitment to sustainability led to a pivotal decision - the adoption of a Single Window Approach. This strategy streamlined the implementation process by integrating technical and administrative sanctions, ensuring swift execution of Feacal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP) projects. Critical components such as technical sanctions, administrative approvals, and access to funds from initiatives like the 14th Finance Commission were harmonized, expediting project implementation. The city council capitalized on this strategy and harnessed government funding efficiently, leading to the creation of infrastructural marvels like the pivotal 30 kiloliters per day Feacal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP), powered by solar energy. Satara's FSTP initiative didn't just offer waste treatment; it provided stable incomes to waste collectors while involving citizens in the process. The FSTP generated income through the sale of fertilizer, contributing to the city's economy. This project became a beacon of progress, courtesy of collaborations with educational institutions and philanthropic organizations.

Looking ahead, Satara continues to expand its sanitation infrastructure. Plans for a 5.5 million liters (about twice the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool) per day Sewage Treatment Plant and other initiatives are in progress. As the city grows, it will be better equipped to treat its waste and preserve the environment.

Satara's journey showcased the power of community involvement, and the single-window approach for approvals and funding streamlined the entire process. The city’s transformation serves as an inspiring example of how vision and strategic leadership in synergy with the community’s support can be a game-changer in the realm of human waste management and a beacon of inspiration for municipalities striving for sustainable, efficient solutions in sanitation.