New Delhi: Dry Composting Toilets or toilets without any kind of flushing system is what Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh district opted for. Considering the geographical area and tropical and climatic conditions, having regular latrines isn’t feasible. Dry cum composting toilet doesn’t use water instead it uses a natural process to breakdown excreta which then produces organic compost. With every household in Leh district equipped with these kind of an individual toilet, the district has self-declared itself free from open defecation.
Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Param Iyer recently congratulated the district in a twitter post for achieving this challenging feat.
— Param Iyer (@paramiyer_) July 28, 2017
Talking to NDTV, Rigzin Spalgon, District Administrator, Leh District, says, With ODF declaration of Leh town, majority of the sanitation work was done as outside the town there are small tehsils which have a very low population. The district will soon conduct the programme where the certificate of ODF will be given by the centre.
How Does Dry Toilet Work?
The dry toilet is a two storied system with toilet as the top layer and a composting unit installed below. The human waste is manually pushed down to the composting unit with the help of a shovel and soil is poured over it. Once the manure gets ready after a 15-20 day cycle it is used for agricultural purposes.
Every year we order a truck full of soil and sell it at very cheap rates to the citizens and by end of the year we manage to get half truck manure from every household. Best part about this exercise is that it is very simple, hygienic and doesn’t cause any smell. It also saves water and electricity to some extent, explains Mr Spalgon. These toilets do not require any sewage treatment plants thereby eliminating the need for a sewer network.
Faecal sludge treatment plants (FTP) were setup across the district. These are different from sewage treatment plants as instead of treating the human waste along with the sewage these are treated separately. These plants have zero operational costs and after being processed, the final product can be used as soil in agricultural activities.
While a family of 5 on an average uses 200 litres of water for toilet usage per day as per a report by Delhi Science Forum (DSF), dry toilets eliminate consumption of water completely. Considering the massive water crisis India is likely to face in the coming years (it is estimated that India’s demand for water will exceed all the available sources of supply by 2030 as per a United Nations report), dry toilets could be an alternative sustainable solution for sanitation.
As for the community toilets, it was only after 2008 that the civic body felt the need to develop flush toilets in the regions. “Due to movies shot in the region the tourism shot up and suddenly there was a floating population of more than 2 lakh,” adds Mr Spalgon.
The district will now strive towards an ODF plus status, “Our next goal is to cut down our overall municipal waste generation and eventually become a waste free region,” signs off Mr Spalgon.