Understanding Informal Models of Septic Tank Emptying Services: Case Studies from Four Cities in India

24 April 2018
Full video of CORP seminar

Watch the full video (above) of the recent CORP seminar discussing the private septic tank emptying sector in India through case studies, in-depth ethnographic work and projections of business models.

Tarun Sharma discusses the market for private septic tank emptying services in the three cities of Dehradun, Jaipur and Bhubaneshwar, while Marie-Helene Zerah and Sweta Xess discuss the findings of a deep-dive ethnographic study of these operators in the peri-urban settlement of Aya Nagar (near the Delhi-Gurgaon boder). Finally, Anindita Mukherjee and Prashant Arya present the results of a projection exercise showing the progressive impact that regularisation and formalisation would have on the operations of these enterprises.

The presentation and the subsequent discussion dwelt on the need, and potential consequences of, regularising an informal sector with broad public health implications, the role of manual scavenging in such enterprises and the hidden costs of labor, and the need to understand the fundamental role that caste and community identities play in this particular kind of work.

Marie - Hélène Zérah is a Research Fellow at CESSMA (Centre d'études en sciences sociales sur les mondes africains, américains et asiatiques) / IRD (Institute of Research for Sustainable Development) deputed to the Centre for Policy Research.

Sweta Celine Xess is a Research Associate with the Centre for Policy Research.

Tarun Sharma is Director and Co-founder of Nagrika, a social enterprise focused on the issues of small and mid-sized cities.

Anindita Mukherjee is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Research working in the project, Scaling City Institutions for India (SCI-FI): Sanitation.

Prashant Arya is a Research Assistant with the Centre for Policy Research.

The question and answer session that followed the seminar can be accessed here.

The views shared belong to individual faculty and researchers and do not represent an institutional stance on the issue.