BIRAC in collaboration with Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had launched the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge - India”, which aimed at addressing the problems of sanitation and was specifically targeted towards Indian innovation and creativity. To take this initiative forward, BIRAC in collaboration with DBT, BMGF and Centre for Urban Green Spaces (CUGS) organized a One Day International Symposium on “Urban Sanitation Challenges in the Developing World: Initiatives and Innovations” on 6th November 2014 at The Lalit Ashok, Bangalore, India.

The proposed symposium brought together Urban planners, municipal administrators, professionals from disciplines of public health, urban sanitation & waste disposal. The symposium was attended by more than 70 participants. The goal of this symposium was to provide a platform to interact and gather insights on the enormity of the challenges and diversity of innovations that can be deployed for waste management in India.

The event started with the introduction and Expected Outcomes by Dr. Shilpi Gupta, BIRAC. She gave an overview of about the activities of BIRAC and emphasized on the need of scientific innovations in the treatment of faecel waste. Mr. Rajendra Ratnoo,  I.A.S, Director of Town Panchayats, Housing and Urban Development Department, Government of Tamil Nadu gave special remarks on the status of waste management and treatment in the Indian scenario. This was followed by a key note address by Prof. Meera Mehta, Professor Emeritus, CPFT which focused on the ground realities and challenges facing this sector.


The symposium also included sessions on Meeting the Urban Sanitation Challenges: Innovations across the world and across India. The session on Sanitation innovations across India was moderated by Dr. VS Chary, ASCI Hyderabad. Several technologies that have been developed by research institutes in India were highlighted.

The session on Sanitation Innovations across the World was chaired by Dr. Carl Hensman, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. The session focussed on different transformative sanitation technologies for treatment of faecal waste such as electrochemical disinfection, conversion to burnable fuel or anaerobic membrane bioreactor.

The symposium also included a panel discussion on “Cleaning Indian Cities- The missing Links and Path Forward”. The main theme of the discussion was centered around what can be done to clean the cities and what kind of technological interventions are available or are needed for the treatment of faecal waste that could be implemented in the Indian scenario. The discussion involved view of the panellists on some common problems of cities with respect to covering them with effective sanitation, to provide insights on hazardous and solid waste management that has applicability to the problems of faecal sludge management and effective technological solutions under development /consideration.