Tamil Nadu

Watch Shri Harmander Singh, IAS
(Additional Chief Secretary- Municipal Administration and Water Supply) talk about the significance of FSSM
Tamil Nadu's FSSM Journey


Tamil Nadu was the first Indian state to issue Septage Management Operative Guidelines in 2014. These guidelines promote regular cleaning of septic tanks, transport, treatment, reuse, and scientific disposal of faecal sludge. Since the issue of the Operative Guidelines, Tamil Nadu’s strategy has been to demonstrate improvements along the sanitation chain with a focus on FSSM.


FSSM Head Start
Complete city sanitation coverage

Tamil Nadu had been practicing co-treatment in its urban areas for over two decades before 2014. However, the treatment capacity was not sufficient to cater to 2/3 rd of Tamil Nadu’s population, dependant on On-site Sanitation Systems. Hence, in 2014, the Government of Tamil Nadu initiated the plan for complete sanitation coverage across its metropolitan cities, medium and small towns under its Vision 2023.

Spotlight on FSSM
Operative Guidelines for Septage Management for Local Bodies in Tamil Nadu

Issues first-of-its-kind state-level guidelines to standardize faecal sludge containment infrastructure and regulate the entire value chain, establishing FSSM as the primary focus.


Setting up Strong Institutions
Launch of Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP)

TNUSSP is a consortium led by Indian Institute for Human Settlements and partners like Keystone Foundation, CDD Society, Gramalaya, Yugaa, People’s Development Initiative, Hasiru Dala, and Bharathidasan University

Set up as a Technical Support Unit (TSU)

Under the Municipal Administration and Water Supply (MAWS) Department to focus on complementing the existing network-based sewerage system with septage management activities.

Range of operations of TNUSSP: Policy and Financing, Infrastructural Design and Technology Innovation, Quality Assurance, Capacity Building, Training and Inclusion, Behaviour Change Communication


Establishing accountability
Setting Institutional Frameworks
  • An Advisory Committee consisting of various State Departmental Heads was set up to monitor the TSU’s activities periodically. It was chaired by the Principal Secretary of the Municipal Administration and Water Supply (MAWS) Department.

  • A State Working Group was instituted to manage the execution of the sanitation plan, grant approvals and coordinate the involved departments

  • A City Working Group consisting of ULB heads was created, that meets periodically with city-level TSUs to go over the planning and administration of the sanitation plan"

Piloting technology solutions
Trichy City
  • Co-treatment facilities augmented, private de-sludging trucks licensed and monitored using GPS.

  • Trichy has been selected among eight cities globally for the Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) Programme by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)

  • In order to better regulate the collection and conveyance of septage, a GPS-enabled monitoring system was piloted in the city. In addition, a standard license agreement (SLA) was developed to regulate and streamline the collection and conveyance process

Periyanaicken Palayam (PNP) and Narasimhanaicken Palayam (NNP)
  • Standalone FSTP developed in a Resource Recovery Park, with a mechanical dewatering system that can operate under all conditions and with minimal skilled labour requirements

  • Holistic steps were taken to ensure proper containment infrastructure and toilet construction for beneficiaries; and further improve desludging operations by improving business models and operations for the town desludging operators


A cluster FSTP built adjoining the Maduranthagam municipality wherein, a tech application monitors regulated de-sludging in the region.

Welfare, Occupational Safety and Health of Sanitation workers
Social Security for sanitation workers and de-sludging operators

ULBs initiate platforms to bridge the workers’ access to social welfare schemes and occupational security provisions. Free health camps are regularly held for the workers and their families.

Promoting Community Based Operations
  • Women SHGs in multiple locations put in-charge of O&M for community toilets and lead community awareness programs to improve the usage rate of community toilets.

Focus on Menstrual Hygiene Management

Government officials sensitized on building sanitation systems that incorporate menstrual hygiene management needs.

WASH Awareness Training in Schools

Efforts undertaken to upgrade sanitation infrastructure in schools under School Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (SSHP) program

Training conducted in demonstration schools in PNP, NNP and Trichy. Software and hardware interventions undertaken for School WASH


Financing FSSM
Phased State Investment Plans
  • Adoption of phased State Investment Plan to cover over 25 million people in urban Tamil Nadu, by building and upgrading 353 FSTPs and STPs

  • Government of Tamil Nadu approves a cumulative budget of Rs. 250 crore to build 60 new FSTPs; funds derived from the Integrated Urban Development Mission and Swachch Bharat Mission

  1. Phases I & II: Aimed towards utilisation of existing sewage treatment plants (STPs) through co-treatment of septage and sewage

  2. Phases III, IV & V: Adoption of a cluster approach, wherein ULBs are clustered around existing or upcoming STPs and potential fecal sludge treatment plants (FSTPs)

    • Based on the plan, the Government of Tamil Nadu approved a budget of Rs. 200 crore in 2018 for Phase III to build 49 new FSTPs and Rs. 31 crore in 2019 for a further 11 FSTPs

    • As of 2021, 11 FSTPs are completely operational and around 46 more are under different stages of construction.


Scaling up the Total Sanitation Mission
Private sector engagement
  • To simplify the registration of desludging operators with ULBs and regulate desludging services, the desludging operators could enter into a Standard Licensing Agreement with the ULB

  • For the construction of new FSTPs, the state developed mechanisms that seek bids and tenders from private firms and more than one firm can co-bid for the same plants. To encourage further participation, FSTP designs were standardized and process of transferring O&M of FSTPs to private sector operators initiated

Capacity-building across the value chain
  • Training for government officials and other sanitation stakeholders on modules like Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (FSSM) Orientation and Engineers Training Programme organised

  • Training on MoU & Licensing organized for government of Tamil Nadu officers Guidelines for desludging operators as sanitation workers during COVID19:

  • Digital Blended Learning (DBL) facilitated in addition to classroom learning to meet Covid-period requirements, using ready reckoner materials and field support over the phone.

  1. Exposure visits for engineers and officials to bring back successful operating models and technologies: 61 officials sent on exposure visits to (Devanahalli) Karnataka, Odisha, Goa and Malaysia.

  2. Capacity building programs for construction workers and operators:

    • As many as 502 masons trained for safe construction of septic tanks and twin pits through local training partners, who were strengthened through capacity building and skilling programmes with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

    • De-sludging operators introduced to themes like vehicle design, types of equipment and occupational safety procedures.

  3. Engaging professional talent pool in government operations: Workshops in academic institutions in Chennai and Coimbatore arranged in a bid to encourage more professional participation in FSSM.

Sustaining FSSM operations
Funding FSSM Operations
  • Tax based revenue from ULBs, for clustered FSTPs

    • One of the ways the Government of Tamil Nadu finances the O&M of the new FSTPs is using existing sanitation and water tax structures. Costs are shared between cluster ULBs proportionate to their population

  • License fees

    • Licensed de-sludging operators required to pay nominal license fees to the ULB

  • Subsidizing de-sludging cost for vulnerable households

    • While households bear the de-sludging operators’ fees, the state is considering providing alternative and subsidized form of the service to vulnerable segments.

Behaviour Change Communication for FSSM
  • TNUSSP uses numerous multi-media tools to raise public awareness regarding the correct method and duration of desludging septic tanks, along with pointing out the public health harms of unsafe faecal sludge containment and dumping

  • One such campaign by the name ‘Kakkaman’ along with a Kakkaman mascot was created, to reposition sanitation as an everyday conversation topic

Technology integration in monitoring
  • MuSu (Muzhu Sugadharam Information System) mobile and web application developed to monitor the implementation of the septage management plan at a ULB level. The MuSu App monitors five indicators within septage management including: access to containment, collection, transport and treatment.

  • An IT Dashboard was created to facilitate efficient monitoring of construction progress in all 60 FSTPs. This was specifically designed for government officials to monitor and evaluate the quality of construction and speed at which it is progressing in each of the planned FSTPs. TNUSSP is adopting an IT based approach to monitor de-sludging activities. It aims to enable ULBs to track fecal sludge from source to disposal and monitor utilisation of the FSTPs at the state level.

FSSM operations innovation
  • As governance mechanisms, the State government undertook Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to operationalise the delivery of Faecal Sludge Management (FSSM) services within clusters of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) across the state

  • The MoU establishes a formal process for the use of shared treatment facilities between ULBs and ensures their financial sustainability

FSSM Milestones in Tamil Nadu

Focus areas supporting Tamil Nadu's FSSM achievements

About the
NFSSM Alliance

The National Faecal Sludge and Septage Management (NFSSM) Alliance was convened in January 2016. The Alliance was convened to build consensus around faecal sludge and septage management. The Alliance with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and helped design a national policy on FSSM.​

and support