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Bio–toilets to eliminate open defecation

It is a matter of pride to be Indian when India is praised for something. But it becomes a matter of great concern when foreign nations point fingers towards India due to poor hygiene. Open defecation is one such major problem the nation is facing. According to the report of WHO and UNICEF, India is the country with highest number of people practicing open defecation. It is not only an issue of human dignity but also nitrate contamination of ground water and increasing coliform count of surface water. It also leads to unhygienic environment and leads to malnutrition and other communicable diseases.

Who must be held responsible for open defecation? We tend to point fingers at the lower class of our society and the rural folks. But even middle class and upper class indulge in open defecation when they travel in Indian Railways. It is a well – known fact that Indian Railways is the single largest organisation responsible for open defecation. It has also resulted in rusting of railway tracks along with the other environmental and health hazards mentioned above. Is it not important to transform the stinking railway stations clean?

Many people feel that it is necessary to clean India. But they show helplessness in addressing this problem. However, the scientists of this country are not helpless. Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has already come up with a solution for eliminating open defecation in trains. It is not simply about constructing a toilet but a bio–toilet. Bio–toilets were developed for the soldiers protecting our country in Himalayas especially those posted in Siachen glaciers. These toilets are equipped with bio-digester tanks which are inoculated with bacteria which break down faecal matter into bio-gas and water. Ninety per cent of the solid waste is reduced on the dry weight basis. Pathogens are also reduced by 99 per cent. Thus it’s a one stop solution for open defecation and also is inexpensive. They are being installed in Indian Railways. Konkan Railway Corporation has decided to install bio–toilets not only in trains but also in railway stations.

My recent train journey made me to ask whether our people are aware about these toilets. Because, a bio–toilet installed in a 3 tier AC coach showed me that the notice boards on the doors and inside saying “This is bio-toilet system. Please do not throw paper waste, clothes, bottles, napkins, polythene bags into the toilet commode which may cause inconvenience. Please dispose them into dustbin”. However, people are ignoring this message as they throw all these items into the toilet commode.

Even when a good facility is provided with new technology to solve a burning issue, the people are only sabotaging the public property. They are unwilling to change their habits. They still show the same arrogance, negligence, insanity and continue to blame governments for lack of amenities. When I asked a safai karamchari about the problems faced by him while cleaning the bio–toilets, he showed me the arrangement made to clear off those blocking materials. I felt Indian scientists have practical intelligence. They don’t want their technology to fail on account of people’s bad habit.
When I asked about the attitude of people towards bio–toilets and ignoring the messages posted on notice boards, he replied “padhe likhe log hai, samajhdari nahi hai” (They are literate people but not educated).

Akshara Damle

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