This paper describes the assessment of the sustainability of a number of different sewage treatment technologies by means of a multi-criteria, participatory method for a scattered settlement of urban fringe of Surat. The special efforts have been made for the broad participation to achieve stronger democracy, better quality of the end product, and a more effective process. The mere participation of technocrats and bureaucrats certainly lead to the greater efficiency in working methods. However, the ultimate goal of sustainable developments of such technologies could not be reached in absence of democratic participation and social learning. Keeping this important aspect in view for assessment of sustainability, the detailed study was conducted in the presence of policy makers and stakeholders, academicians, technical experts, finance managers and NGO, to find out sustainability criteria and indicators for three different sewage treatment technologies: (A) Conventional Activated Sludge Process (B) Extended Aeration System, and (C) Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB) Reactor followed by Aerated Lagoon and Polishing Pond. Technologies were compared according to four criteria subdivided into twenty operational indicators. Criteria and indicators were evaluated as in a weighted-scale matrix. In India, sustainability criteria used in this type of comparisons are often restricted to a limited set of environmental impacts and financial costs but in this study additional criteria were evaluated including economic, social, and technical aspects. Based on the values assigned by the panel, the Sustainability Index (SI) was calculated for each technology. According to the SI and a predefined scale, sustainability was medium for options A and B, whereas high for option C. The purpose of this study is to provide a basis for the selection of a particular technology based on a rational and democratic assessment of its contribution to sustainability in the local and global context.

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