BIO-TOILETS NEEDED TO ENSURE ECO-FRIENDLY SANITATION
An international body, particularly the World Toilet Organisation, has promoted World Toilet Day for years.
In 2013, the UN officially recognised November 19 as the World Toilet Day in a bid to make sanitation for all. The 2014 World Toilet Day campaign will draw attention to dignity and equality issues, especially inspiring action to end open defecation.
According to the Unicef and WHO estimates, one-seventh of the world population still openly defecate due to lack of proper toilet facilities. Of these, 60 per cent live in India.
On a global scale, it is estimated that yearly 10 million children die under the age of five due to improper sanitation.
Of these, 2.4 million children belong to India. The provision of proper toilets could save the lives of more than two lakh children in the world, according to the UN.
The countries where open defecation is most widely practised are the same with the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, poverty, and large wealth disparities.
Mahatma Gandhi emphasised the importance of toilets in the pre-Independent India and said it to be more important than attaining Independence. But after 66 years of Independence, nearly half of India’s populations have no toilet at home, coupled with very low use of existing toilets in urban and rural areas.
According to the 2011 Census, 53.1% (63.6% in 2001) of Indian households do not have a toilet, with the percentage being as high as 69.3% (78.1% in 2001) in rural areas and 18.6% (26.3% in 2001) in urban areas.
In India, Jharkhand tops the list of the States with as high as 77% of homes having no toilet while the figures are 76.6% for Odisha and 75.8% in Bihar. A detailed exercise is also being conducted to identify the shortcomings of the existing sanitation and drinking water efforts and incorporate them into the 12th Five-Year Plan.
However, open defecation continues to be a big concern for people. Cultural and traditional reasons and lack of education are the prime reasons for this unhygienic practice.
According to the “Status of Elementary and Secondary Education in Odisha-2012”, a report recently prepared by the Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA), of the total 53,193 elementary schools (up to Class-VIII), 12,588 have no toilets. However, to improve the sanitary conditions in schools, The Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) had contracted 1,021 bio-toilets across the country including 375 in Odisha under the Swachchh Bharat Swachchh Vidyalaya scheme.
Maintaining toilets in a hygienic condition has emerged as a major problem in schools across Odisha. The non-availability of piped water supply in schools is a great cause of concern to maintain cleanness of the toilet.
Almost none of the rural schools are supplied with running water. Some in urban pockets do have regular water supply. Water for flushing toilets still has to be carried by hand. So, on an average, every time a toilet is used, water has to be lugged in buckets and mugs from hand pumps located at a distances of 50 to 100 metres away.
Access to water supply and drainage facilities is also another problem. The situation is even worse in the areas which are drought-prone or face perennial water shortage such as Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Under these circumstances, it is not possible to maintain water-flush toilets in those areas. In many areas toilets have been constructed and not being used due to lack of water supply. India has been constructing 1.5 million toilets a year under its Total Sanitation Campaign. However, 50% of them remain unused. Besides, manual scavenging is still widespread in India.
As per the 2011 Census, there were 7.94 lakh latrines in the country from which night soil was removed by humans. A number of households in both the urban and rural areas continue to rely even today on this practice.
In the slums of Bhubaneswar, almost 40% to 50% of households use either public toilets or communal toilets, which serve a fixed residential population.
However, the conditions of these facilities are very poor. More than 50% of these toilets are either “dirty” or “very dirty” and are completely nonfunctional. Households who are dissatisfied with the cleanliness of their community’s toilets were more likely to practise open defecation.
In the case of water scaricy in some regions, bio-toilets can be used. In the case of improved bio-toilet setup, existing traditional toilet can be improved so that it may not require continuous water supply. Proper design of the bio-toilet implies that the system fulfils criteria such as safety, functionality, economy, and social and environmental affordability. So, the bio-toilet must be designed to accelerate decomposition of human excreta, optimise efficiency and minimise any potential environmental or nuisance problems (odour).
In bio-toilet, there are some innovative technologies for disposal of human waste in an eco-friendly manner. This bio-toilet, called bio-digester, is affordable and nature-friendly.
In areas where water is scarce and plumbing doesn’t exist, bio-toilets may be used. Bio-toilet uses a dry toilet technology, which reduces the demand for water. The bio-toilet includes a natural exhausting process so that the digester system never fills up to overflow. The waste collected in the digester is processed using anaerobic digestion to make organic manure.
As the waste biodegrades, the digester captures methane gas, which is used for lighting and cooking. It can be connected to the toilet or a series of toilets. Toilet can be a superstructure fixed on the bio-digester or a separate unit. Bio-digester has an inlet, an outlet and a gas pipe. It is the device in form of a container made of mild steel/ concrete/ plastic, etc.
The main advantages are the toilets do not smell when properly maintained.The toilets do not pollute the environment or groundwater. They are cheaper to build compared to septic systems. Once a toilet is separated from the water use system, recycling household water becomes a much simpler process.
A significant usefulness of the technology is very low water requirement. It is only to the extent to clean the toilet and personal washing. With the persistent water scarcity in various locations, less use of water is always desirable.
The cleaning of toilet is also possible with comparatively lesser quantity of water as
P-trap is avoidable since water seal has been provided in the main tank. This technology reduces residential water use, thus cutting water bills and lowering the energy needed to pump and purify water.
Bio-toilets can be used in railway coaches, highways, rural areas, households, airports, industrial areas, educational institutions, pilgrimage sites and slums.
Bio-toilet is a complete solid waste management solution and certified by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It is 100% sludge-free disposal of human waste. The toilet decomposes solid waste to water and biogas. It is 100% maintenance-free.
A number of factors have been found to play an important role in determining toilet use. Sticking to toilet-using habit depends on construction aspects like a well-maintained, user-friendly structure that protects privacy, water availability and awareness about the benefits of good sanitation. Experiences on the use of public toilets in urban areas have also identified that a number of factors lead to poor use of toilets. These include lack of water supply and adequate systematically designed sewage systems.
The Prime Minister has already declared a Swachchh Bharat Abhiyaan, and by 2019 India should become Swachchh Bharat. To achieve this, it is imperative to provide toilet to each household.
In many areas, there are existing toilets, but people are not using it because of water scarcity and maintenance. In the areas where water is not sufficiently available, bio-toilet is a suitable solution.
Sanitation in India is a State subject. State-level steering committees and urban departments play the role of guidance and support to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) which are responsible for final implementation of sanitation at the local level.
The ULBs are mandated to undertake planning, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of water supply and sanitation services in towns. Besides, public participation and an inclusive approach to sanitation are essential to ensure better ecofriendly sanitation for all.