By Dr. Bindheshwar Pathak
When I came on the scene of sanitation in 1968 the scene was rather depressing. The practice of defecation in the open was common and in urban areas the use of bucket toilets necessitated engagement of scavengers, a class engaged in manually cleaning excreta of others.
It was associated with un-touchability. It was Gandhiji who first stirred the conscience of the nation towards the evils mentioned afore. He said “No one should clean and carry human excreta of others just to earn one’s livelihood. There must be some scientific method of human waste disposal.” For this a suitable technology was essential.
I invented, for the purpose two-pit pour-flush compost toilet technology for the individual household and for community needs took up construction and maintenance of public toilets run on ‘pay and use’ basis attached with excreta based bio-gas plant inked to Sulabh Effluent Treatment device.
The two pit technology, with alternate use and economizing water use for flushing and onsite waste disposal facility dispensing with the necessity of engaging scavengers and replacing sewerage and septic tank systems both of which are cost prohibitive, is technically appropriate and ecologically acceptable.
While septic tank system needs periodic cleaning requiring engagement of Safai Karamchari banned under law, the sewerage is difficult of maintenance and requires great amount of water for flushing.
The attachment of bio-gas plant linked with Sulabh Effluent Treatment Device renders reduction of BOD of effluent to much less than 10 mg/l when processed through sedimentation, sand filtration and aeration tanks, carbon filtration and exposed under the UV rays. The system has multiple advantages: improves sanitation, makes available energy, bio-fertilizer and reduces green house effect.
The systems are replicable, sustainable and scalable considering that Sulabh technologies based facilities of 1.3 million household toilets and nearly 8000 maintained public toilets are used by 15 million people on a daily basis. The two pit technology dispensing engaging services of the scavengers leads to scavengers losing employment. Their rehabilitation is effected by training them in market oriented trades. This was done by establishing a training institution at Alwar.
The trained erstwhile scavengers develop capability of being gainfully employed and economically self-reliant raising their social status and enabling them to enter the temples and joining the mainstream of society. On Supreme Court ascertaining whether Sulabh is willing to take up work of welfare of widows at Vrindavan, Sulabh agreed to do so and took up welfare work for widows at Vrindavan, Varanasi and Deoli Bhanigram Panchayat devastated by floods in Uttarakhand in 2013.
In the Ashrams at Vrindavan each widow is provided a stipend of Rs. 2000 per month and trained to make garlands, incense sticks; and, have been provided ambulances, TVs and refrigerators. Whereas earlier on death they were denied a decent cremation now, they are cremated according to prescribed rituals.
Their earlier yearning to die stands replaced with the desire to live. Summing up the functioning of Sulabh is not only to provide toilets for all but also to spread the culture of sanitation in the country. Synopsis
(Author: Padma Bhushan Dr. Bindheshwar Pathak, Renowned Social Reformer, Thinker, Sociologist & Author Founder – Sulabh International Social Service Organisation)