Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, Aug. 19, 2013: In the revolution of ridding India of open defecation, several children in Tamil Nadu have taken up the challenge and brought about a change by introducing Ecosan toilet training for their parents.
Over 120 zero waste toilets, with attached incinerators to burn soiled napkins, were built in Krishnagiri in the last three years with funds from Unicef, the TN government and the Union ministry after children convinced their parents to use green toilets. Now, many more green toilets have been built across TN because of the campaign taken up by the children.
After the Ecosan toilet was built in the Thimmapuram government high school (TGHS) in 2009, students used it and urged their parents to build the same at home.
Take the case of Ramu and Lakshmi, twin girl children aged 14, who influenced their parents to use the Ecosan toilet last year.
“First, our parents hesitated. They preferred to go to the bushes. But when we insisted that we wanted a toilet, they approached our school and learnt about the scheme. Now, our mother, Sathiyavani, and father, Ramesh, are proud that we have a green toilet at home,” said the twins.
R. Sowmiya, (14), is a key person in Thimmapuram panchayat who spread the word about the green toilets. Unable to resist her repeated requests, Sowmiya’s parents applied for the scheme and are now enjoying its benefits. Parents, Mangammal and Ramasamy, told this newspaper that they felt dignified now because of Ecosan.
“Initially, we couldn’t think of using this toilet. When Sowmiya persisted and the government provided a subsidy, we thought Sowmiya and her sister alone would use it. Now, we too use the toilet and many relatives who had visited our house have approached their local panchayat office, seeking the same subsidy,” said Mangammal.
TGHS teacher A. Jayanthi explained that an awareness seminar was arranged for parents where they were told how to access funds for its construction. “An Ecosan toilet complex was built in our school in 2009.
We were overwhelmed by the response from children because they did not have toilets at home. Then they stressed to their parents to build toilets and achieved their goal,” she said. She added that 120 students out of 222 had Ecosan toilets at home.
Compost from Ecosan toilets help flowers bloom
Compost from Ecosan toilets is used by floriculturists in Krishnagiri in the jasmine and rose farms. This year, farmers have decided to try out the compost in paddy too. Many foreign researchers and organisations have visited this unique toilet model to replicate it back home.
Floriculturist Venu Thozhan (51), who worked formerly with the Indian Army as a medical assistant, has started working in a full-fledged manner, propagating green toilets. He explained that in an Ecosan toilet, waste water doesn’t mix with faecal matter and the faeces get deposited in a chamber and the user has to flush the toilet with ash.
Mangalam Venu, mother of five daughters, said, “We realised that it would benefit our family and applied for the subsidy and constructed it in 2010.” As Thimmapuram panchayat president from 2007-12 she was able to inspire other residents to build an Ecosan toilet.
Venu will use the compost from the toilet in his paddy fields this year. “My neighbours and I have decided to use the compost in our paddy fields. The last harvest in the jasmine field was bountiful. And I hope to get the same result in the paddy field too,” he added.
Another resident, Ramasamy (47), said he would use the compost in his half-acre farm this year. “I have learnt from Venu and other farmers that the compost from Ecosan works wonders. I will try it out on paddy this year,” he said. He built the green toilet in 2011 and finds it useful for his family. (Source: Pramila Krishnan, Deccan Chronicle)