626 million people in India — the highest in the world — defecate in the open as they don’t have a toilet at their homes. As per a study, done by CRY, 11 per cent of schools in India do not have basic sanitation facilities. Only 18 per cent have separate toilets for girls and 34 per cent school toilets are in unusable conditions. Every month, girls between the ages of 12 and 18 are missing school for 5 days during their menstrual cycle because there are no decent toilet facilities in the school.
Pulluvila, a village in Thiruvananthapuram district has the world’s first e-toilet which uses technology that turns waste into fertiliser, generates power and even makes potable water. Eram Scientific Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Thiruvananthapuram-based Company has come up with an innovative solution in the form of eToilets to change the way public sanitation worked in India.
What is an eToilet?
It is India’s first unmanned Electronic Public Toilet and is portable, hygienically maintained, and eco-friendly. It uses technology that turns waste into fertilizer, generates power and even makes potable water. One of its models, the e-Lite 14, is even powered by solar panels to eliminate the use of electricity. Eram solutions had also unveiled a new eToilet mobile app for such toilets a day before the World Toilet Day on November 19. The app can be downloaded for free by android. Its unique features include locating the nearest eToilets, besides understanding the mode of operation and access, information on facilities such as napkin vending machine, incinerator and sharing feedback on the user experience of eToilet. Through the app, public can also suggest new places for setting up eToilets.
How does it work?
The user has to insert a coin to open the door and its sensor-based light system is automatically turned on once you enter the toilet. It also directs the user with audio commands. To conserve water, the toilets are programmed to flush 1.5 liters of water after three minutes of usage and 4.5 liters if the usage is longer. This “smart” toilet also washes the platform by itself after every five or 10 persons use the toilet. An instructional note is pasted outside the toilet to make the user familiar with the functioning. She-toilets caters to the need of girls during their menstrual cycle. The toilets in schools are ‘girl-friendly’ and offer facilities like napkin incinerators and vending machines.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had awarded a Rs. 3-crore ‘Reinvent the Toilet Challenge’ grant to Eram Scientific Solutions for further research, development and implementation of the project. Eram solutions received technical support from University of South Florida (USF) called New Generator, which is also supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. NEWgen is a machine in a box that recycles water, harvests energy, creates fertilizers and, ultimately, turns waste into profit.
Though the eToilet is self-cleaning and automatic, sometimes people throw litter or use it wrongly. To deal with all such incidents, a service team conducts periodic visits to the toilets for maintenance and repair. Another challenge is to find the appropriate site. The toilet needs to be easily accessible but also not very close to crowded areas.
Eram is the sole manufacturer of eToilets in India and has set up more than 1,600 eToilets in around 19 states. It has received over 38 national and international awards for their innovative intervention in sanitation. Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore has gained the unique distinction of becoming the first district in the country with the highest number of e-toilets (461) in its schools. Eram Solutions work in the field of sanitation is commendable. It is truly changing the way Public sanitation works in the country and will also play a big role in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
– Sumedha Mahajan