Hidding Toxicities of Sewage





Creative Commons Licence




Contributed date

March 2, 2020 - 6:57pm

Critical Commentary

The first physical infrastructure to manage the wastewater in Nashik was introduced during colonial period. During 1890-1910, the colonial policies on sewage disposal in Indian rivers took definite shape. These policies largely ignored the problematic aspects of sewage disposal into rivers, which was evident in the European context. Moreover, “due to range of ideological and financial reasons, colonial officials supported the introduction of the cheapest available sewerage technologies, which were technologies causing extensive pollution” (Wilhelm 2016). Similar policies were adopted in Nashik and were pushed as ‘modern’ sewerage technologies that excluded purification facilities and enabled discharge of untreated sewage into the river below city limits. After the initial intervention during the colonial period, the sewerage system of Nashik could allure attention decades after during 1955-68. Following the colonial legacies, in this scheme as well, the underground sewage pipes were laid, and the wastewater was pumped into the tributaries and cannels of Godavari without much treatment. Not long back, in 2005, the first scheme was introduced to construct sewage treatment plants (STP) to treat wastewater before letting it flow into the river. Even after the introduction of STPs the untreated or insufficiently treated wastewater finds its way into the Godavari, as evident from the layer white foam visible in the image. The inherent toxicities of sewage management are pushed to the fringes of the city, making it invisible to the naked eyes of the urban dwellers.

This visualization is part of the Visualizing Toxic Places collection. It is also part of the Sacred Toxic: Narratives of Visible and Invisible Toxicities of Godavari River photo essay.


Map extracted from Google Earth and image captured by ethnographer during fieldwork.

Cite as

Shilpa Dahake, "Hidding Toxicities of Sewage", contributed by Shilpa Dahake, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 21 March 2020, accessed 4 February 2023. https://centerforethnography.org/content/hidding-toxicities-sewage