Ambitious political schemes and govt campaigns often don’t consider crucial facts associated with mass level implementation.

When Central govt announced toilet schemes, I asked my self : “Is it really a Central Govt’s job to decide how I should defecate? Is it not local habits formed based by terrain and environment?”

Mind you, I am with the idea of highest possible sanitation. And against open defecation in highly dense urban centers. But you cannot impose same everywhere!



Waterless toilet from old Architecture book of India.
Waterless toilet from old Architecture book of India.

First photo is from mexico. Water-less toilet. (Via Prof Anil Gupta’s twitter stream, IIMA)

Second photo is from a book published in 1950 (In Gujarati) on subject of Vastu Vidhya (Indian Architecture) where idea of water-less toilet is discussed. The result is सोन-खातर (Fertilizer worth Gold!) every six months! Idea is not discussed as some innovation but as normal practice! Book is for those who used to build homes for self.

What do we do now? We replace old sustainable designs with water guzzling western toilets! 🙂 And that too when we all sense acute scarcity of clean water!


How do waterless toilets work?

What is a waterless toilet?

Waterless toilets use urine diversion and the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to breakdown and reduce the volume of human waste, transforming it into a soil-like compost material. The decomposition/composting and evaporation process can be thought of as what happens to a banana peel when left out in the open. It starts out yellow, moist and smelling like a banana with a relatively thick skin – after a few days it becomes a black, shriveled up, odor-less, dried out fraction of itself. That is decomposition/composting at work. Waste entering the toilets is over 90% water, which is evaporated and carried back to the atmosphere through the vent system. The urine diversion system carries sterile urine to storage containers to be diluted and used as fertilizer or discharged directly into the ground via a shallow soak pit.

India Groundwater: a Valuable but Diminishing Resource

Groundwater in India is a critical resource. However, an increasing number of aquifers are reaching unsustainable levels of exploitation. If current trends continue, in 20 years about 60% of all India’s aquifers will be in a critical condition says a World Bank report, Deep Wells and Prudence. This will have serious implications for the sustainability of agriculture, long-term food security, livelihoods, and economic growth. It is estimated that over a quarter of the country’s harvest will be at risk. There is an urgent need to change the status quo.