“India doesn’t need help from anyone. There are 1.2 billion countrymen in our nation, a mix of rich and intelligent people. If everyone starts coming forward to help their fellow citizens then we soon can fulfill the dream of Swachh Bharat.” With these words in mind, Arvind Dethe, an engineer started his journey on the road to swachhta. Like thousands of people living in India, Arvind Dethe too had limited resources and struggled to make his ends meet. He started as a sugarcane juice seller, went on to become an engineer and slowly braved all odds just so he could fulfill his mission – ‘Make India Swachh.’ Today, with his sheer dedication and hard work he proudly sits as the chairman of R.K Technologies in Akola, Maharashtra and is providing India affordable toilets so that everyone can enjoy a basic right – a toilet.
Arvind’s Journey Towards Swachh Bharat
While addressing the nation from the rampart of the Red Fort on the 68th Independence Day, Aug 15, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “If 125 crore countrymen move one step forward, the country moves 125 crore steps forward,” this was enough to leave me motivated to start my own swachh war. That particular day only I formed a group, ‘Bharat Ek Kadam’ and started involving people who could make a difference. This was my one step forward towards the welfare of the nation, says Arvind Dethe.
Arvind’s group Bharat Ek Kadam is made up of entrepreneurs and professionals who are totally committed to developing the rural infrastructure with improvised and developed technologies that cater to the different needs of Indian villages and improves their standard of living.
Arvind together with his group first identifies an area where people need attention in terms of sanitation. Then he seeks out investors who would be interested in developing infrastructure in the village which can change the life of the villagers by giving them one toilet at a time.
Also Read: 5 Women And Their Fight For Sanitation
There are times when I don’t have any investors, and then I myself become an investor and continue my swachh endeavors. In India, it is very difficult to take out money from anyone; I knew and accepted this fact. Therefore my aim was to provide the facilities at the bare minimum price, added Arvind Dethe.
Arvind Dethe initiated four major projects – Hygiene India, that aims to make potable mineral water available in public places at a nominal cost, City Thrust which aims to make pure water available for an entire district, Bio Toilets or Smart Toilets, which provides households with low-cost toilets, and Wall of Humanity which aims to provide a needy person with basic necessities. Today, he has successfully covered around 20 villages in Maharashtra.
My ultimate aim is to cover each and every state in India. I want every household to have a toilet and I will do my best for it, said Mr Dethe.
An Innovation That’s Changing The Fate Of Rural India
It is the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide toilet to each and every household in India. For this, the government of India is also giving people an amount of Rs. 12,000. Keeping this vision in mind, Arvind Dethe came up with the plan to construct what he calls ‘Cheap-yet-best’ toilets. What he introduced was something unique! He developed bio-toilets or smart toilets that would cost only Rs. 6,000.
These toilets also require very little water, which is a huge incentive in a tropical and water-scarce country like India. Not just that, these toilets are completely odourless and ensure the total dissolution of waste. An added advantage is that these toilets produce gas for fuel and water for irrigation as bio-products. Till now, he has been successful in installing around thousands of bio-toilets and smart toilets across the country.
The Working Of Bio-Toilet
The way this toilet is designed is simple – The digestion seat (where the human excreta goes and get decomposed) is pre-filled with anaerobic bacteria, this bacteria basically eats up all the human excreta. Once the bacteria eats up the waste it gets transformed in the form of water and methane gas. End results – no human waste is going to the sewer lines or out in the environment and polluting it further.
I wanted to come out with a solution that can actually be implemented. When the government was giving Rs. 12,000 for the construction of toilets that time a toilet use to cost an individual Rs.30,000-Rs.40,000. That was not a practical solution in India. That made me design these super toilets, we went over everything – from usage to availability etc. Many villages in India do not even have the availability of bricks, the most basic thing which we need in the construction of toilets. Together with entrepreneurs and different individuals we led to the invention of these toilets, said Mr Dethe.
A Toilet Invention That Led To Employment Growth
Apart from inventing these super toilets, Mr Dethe is also providing employment opportunities in rural India. Villagers are trained to construct these toilets, which enable them to start building other everyday items that can be sold in the villages.
“My mantra for all the innovations is to generate employment opportunities, benefit the needy and help India become swachh by not using any money from the government,” added Mr Dethe.
The Growing Need Of Well-Designed Toilets
In India, around 1,80,000 villages, 130 districts, and three states have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) as of April 21, 2017, but the quest to make the entire nation open defecation free continues. While the government and other agencies are constructing toilets in huge numbers to combat this issue, they are overlooking certain basic issues. Currently, all the focus is on construction, and no one is thinking about the design, usage of water and the environment.
Arvind Dethe, a swachh crusader signs off by saying,
Whatever I do, I make sure it is an innovation. India currently is not so familiar with eco-friendly toilets, bio-toilets or smart toilets. I want to change that because that’s the need of the hour if we really want India to become open defecation free by 2019. I will need the help of each and every one of you, come and join my fight and let’s make India swachh.
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