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Skills development for technicians and helpers of the industrial wastewater treatment plants (CETPs/ETPs)

India has over 170 combined wastewater treatment plants (CETPs) and several thousands of effluents treatment plants (ETPs) in individual industries to treat wastewater generated from industries. The staff employed in CETPs and ETPs play a very important role in effectively operating and managing these treatment plants so as to contain the pollution levels and ensure the protection of the receiving water bodies, including rivers and lakes. Very sophisticated technologies deployed in treating wastewater could become futile without qualified and skilled staff to operate such facilities. The jobs in ETPs and CETPs include helpers, operators/technicians, senior technicians, lab chemists, supervisors and managers. The number and type of staff engaged in CETPs and ETPs depend on their size and type. Currently, the estimated number of staff employed in these ETPs and CETPs is about 2,00,000. By 2025 and 2050, the projected number of these staff is at about 3,65,000 and 4,40,000 respectively. Of these, the operators/technicians constitute nearly 35% of the total staff, while helpers constitute about 30% of the total staff. The operators/technicians and helpers together constitute nearly 65% of the total staff, which is a very significant figure.

From a sample study of ETPs and CETPs, it was found that the operators/technicians engaged are not adequately qualified. For example, some of the helpers have not even gone to school. In 90% cases, the operators and technicians have not undergone any professional/vocational training but mostly acquired knowledge through on-the-job experience over the years. The operators and technicians though become well versed with the functional aspects of machinery and equipment such as filters, motors, pumps etc., they lack the technical know-how of process, accurate dosage of chemicals and control parameters due to which ETPs and CETPs often face problems.

Considering the immediate needs of the skills development in the area of industrial wastewater treatment, under the German Development Cooperation project on “Sustainable and Environment-friendly Industrial Production” (SEIP), GIZ has facilitated the introduction of a system of skills development for the operators/technicians and the helpers of ETPs and CETPs involved industrial wastewater treatment through training institutions and individual trainers.

Towards this, GIZ had already supported the Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ) in developing Qualification Packages for the following two categories:

To initiate the process of introducing skills development system in various States in India, to start with, GIZ has identified individual experts/trainers that are willing to undertake skills development of the technicians and helpers of the ETPs and CETPs. These experts, once certified as qualified trainers by SCGJ after the Training of Trainers (ToT) course by GIZ, would make collaborative arrangements on their own with individual industries and the operators of the common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) and start undertaking skills development of the technicians and helpers.

Under the SEIP project, two training sessions were organised – one in June 2016 and the other one in October 2018, in which 27 individual trainers were trained by international experts from German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) and ICON Institute, Germany. The assessment and certification of these participants was done by SCGJ at the end of the trainings. The ToT programmes were designed to qualify the trainers to be able to impart skills to the technicians and helpers of the industrial wastewater treatment plants in accordance with the SCGJ qualification packs for the technicians and helpers. Both the ToTs focussed on providing essential understanding on the process of training, training methods/tools, didactics, soft skills, examination system etc. and orientation to the training curricula. In addition to the trainings, DWA also developed specific training toolkits for the waste and waste water treatments techniques that are applicable in India that were used for both the ToTs by the trainers and the participants. 

The first training was organised from 21 to 23 June 2016 at the Conference hall, SCGJ, CBIP Building, Malcha Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The master trainer for this workshop was Mr. Michael Doerr, senior expert and training specialist with DWA. The workshop was attended by nine participants representing 4 different affiliated training partners. 

The second training was attended by 19 participants, professionals from various environment-related organisation, CETP Society, environmental activists, and academicians from various parts of India. The 5-day training was conducted within Naroda Industrial Estate in Gujarat where participants demonstrated on the job training for the operators and helpers of the NEPL CETP in the estate during the training session. The master was Ms Helen Olwen Herbison from ICON-Institute, Germany. She also developed a manual for Training of trainers for skills development for technicians and helpers of industrial wastewater treatment plants with the objective to provide potential trainers with the information required to enable them to train helpers and technicians/operators in CETP/ETPs in India.

One of the certified trainers from the GIZ ToT organized under SEIP held in Ahmedabad, Dr. Kunwar D Yadav, Associate Professor from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat, Gujarat, collaborated with Centre for Environment Education to deliver training to the operators and helpers of CETP in Pandesara in December 2018. He conducted a session on the major provisions and salient features of the A.A.-81 and HWM Rules 2016 and CTE/CC&A conditions.

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