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VOL. XXIV NO. 19, January 16-31, 2015
Our Readers write

Eco-friendly dry toilets

“In Madras Musings, February 1, 2005, I wrote,” says reader K.V.S. Krishna: “The plantation companies in South India have long been providing latrines for workers according to the Plantation Labour Act.

“For example, dry-pit latrines are provided by the management. A later version has a 1.5’ to 1.75’ bore hole dug manually to a depth of 15’ or 20’. On top of this is mounted a cylindrical concrete monobloc latrine which usually has a 36” internal diameter and is 6’ high, with the top and bottom concrete slabs fused together. The bottom has an opening aligned to the bore.

“These cylindrical mobile toilets can be refixed, after the bore is filled with sullage, on a new bore within minutes. When the second bore is filled, the first bore can be cleared of night soil (used as manure) and refixed on the same bore hole.

“These cylindrical toilets can be made with just two bags of cement, jally, sand and steel rods for reinforcement. In 1975, they cost Rs. 150 when normal toilets cost Rs. 350-400.

“The dry pit toilets can also be made with Indian-style seats for wet use. The sullage is cleared as in the dry toilet by having two bores, five feet apart, and two drain pipes attached to each of them. However, where contamination of soil is likely, a septic tank can be specially designed to recover the sullage as manure.

“One particular design that I saw years ago was the Chinese model of a mobile toilet meant for rural areas. The toilet is mounted on a plough so as to open a furrow. After use, the toilet is pulled 1.5’-2’ forwards so that the faecal matter is covered by fresh soil. Everytime the toilet is used, it is moved forward by about two feet. A family of five can get it to move 12-14 feet a day, or 4,500 feet a year. This system saves water, does not produce sullage but results in field manure and there is no room for groundwater contamination.

“The agricultural engineering departments attached to agriculture colleges can reinvent this mechanism. Obviously, this system can only be used in farms and rural areas.”

He now adds:

These cylindrical monobloc concrete latrines can be modified by Industry for use in estates, industry or villages with bore hole or flush-out latrines for Indian style or even Western style system.

Additionally, they can be prefabricated and transported to site and installed within a day or two, even a few hundreds of them at a time.

Each district can have several “Government Controlled Manufacturing” units, so as to reduce cost of transport and cost of each unit.

Fixing 500 million units in a year will not be difficult, but creating a manufacturing base in over 1000 districts or more needs a proper plan, which our engineers can easily do.

Private enterprises too can be encouraged to do this with suitable monitoring. Then there are those special movable toilets mounted on ploughs for farms to convert faecal matter to night soil, a useful way to add organic matter to the soil.

This was implemented during the 1970s in Central Travancore.

K.V.S. Krishna
2A, Parkland Apartments
Kamala Bai Street
T. Nagar, Chennai 600 017

Poster culture

About ten years back the walls along Anna Salai from Nandanam Junction to Golf course were painted beautifully and I used to stand and enjoy their aesthetic beauty. They depicted the rural ambience of Tamil Nadu. Gradually they got washed away by rains and atmospheric pollution. At that point of time the walls of Golf course were permanent urinal spot and people used to stop their bikes and cycles and ease themselves on those spots.

Now these walls have been taken over by the cinema and political posters.The walls along Chamiers Road upto Turnbull flyover have the maximum disfiguration. Cinema stars and political leaders who have joined the Clean India campaign with great fanfare can perhaps do something to bring about a better sense of awareness.This wall poster culture appears to be unique to Tamil Nadu, unlike to other parts.

T. Santhanam

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In this issue

Buckingham Canal highs and lows
Madras Landmarks - 50 years ago
The importance of being smart
A trail of hope
Why can't Tamil Nadu villages aim to be like these?
How the Buckingham Canal was born
The birth of Matscience

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Readers Write
Dates for your Diary


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