Tumakuru is an Indian city located in the state of Karnataka, about 70 kms to the northwest of the state capital Bengaluru. It is administered by a Municipal Corporation that is composed of 35 urban wards, which serve a population of 3,02,143 citizens (2011 census), at a population density of 6,291 people per square kilometre in an area of 48.6 square kilometres.
Tumakuru city is witnessing rapid urbanization and inadequately co-ordinated expansion of the city boundaries. Every year 1.135 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of Hemavathi River water is allocated from the Gorur dam (about 170 kilometres away) through which about 40 MLD of water is supplied to the city, as it has no large perennial local source of potable water. The Tumakuru Municipal Corporation (TMC) is pursuing 100% Underground Drainage (UGD) connectivity via citywide sewerage systems which began in 2017 and is designed to achieve full capacity between 2027-2042 [expected served populations – 4,62,900 (2027) to 5,91,300 (2042)]. Wastewater from households connected to the UGD network is treated at the Bheemasandra Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) which has a capacity of 25 MLD and is about 10 kms from the city’s centre. The STP follows a simple Aerated Pond technique and is proposed to be supplemented by an advanced subsidiary treatment plant in the future, which runs on SBR (Sequential Batch Reactor) technology.
The households that are not connected to the sewer system are dependent on ‘honeysuckers’ (pit emptying vacuum trucks) and sometimes even manual scavengers, to manage the domestic wastes generated (also known as fecal sludge). This fecal sludge is an effective organic soil fertiliser and conditioner, and has helped to create a self-sustaining economy of waste management and nutrient transfer between Tumakuru’s residents, honeysucker operators and farmers. The wastewater collected at the STP via the sewerage, when used for irrigation after adequate treatment, has been found to aid soil fertility as well as reduce the freshwater dependence of local farmers. The discovery of the unique suitability of “Baje”, a medicinal cash crop grown for its rhizomes, as a crop that is suited to cultivation in treated wastewater, has caused a shift in local cropping patterns as well as a rise in farmer incomes.
The interplay of these dynamics in the urban ecosystem of Tumakuru as well as some scenarios of the city’s future challenges are discussed further in this website.