Two-pit composting latrines are best for tropics

Cities have no use for it. A ‘modernising’ India looks down on pour flush toilets. You won’t find any deep slope plastic toilet pan to buy in and around a city’s hardware stores. Another reason why it is hard to find, is because the mass sanitation has entered the central government’s subsidy loop: contractors buy pans in thousands and build toilets for the poor and proffer the bill to government departments.

I needed a few pans for toilets in the first building likely to come up in the next few months at pointReturn. I called Sulabh on whom I written in GoodNewsIndia because of their great work with mass sanitation. [Story with a picture of the privy here]. To my chagrin, a senior person I spoke to was of little help. They don’t work much in south India, he said; they take on large projects only and he wouldn’t know where I could buy a few pieces of the pan. Then on a vague notion that Khadi Village Industries Corporation [KVIC] may be using them as they promote integration of toilets with biogas plants, I paid then a visit. They were helpful, but didn’t know the pans. Their contractor might do. Tracking him was a few days’ works and then it was a dead lead too. He doesn’t use these pans at all. A second round to hardware distributors drew puzzled looks as well.

Quite frustrated, I sat for a session throwing various keywords at Google. And in 20 minutes a lead popped up. Gramalaya in Trichy was working with mass sanitation. I called and was in luck. A friendly lady asked me to get in touch with Mr Subramani, right here in Chennai city. He has been making these pans for 5 years and yes, I could pick up a few pieces from his manufacturing unit in Guindy. It was not an easy place to find without a few more calls as I kept getting lost.

Mr Subramani is a friendly man. He is the only man in the south who manufactures these pans. He worked with Water Partners International, USA, Gramalaya and WaterAid to develop the product. He has manufactured close to a quarter million so far and exported to neighbouring countries and Australia [-where it is used in water-scarce remote areas]. Coloured sets cost Rs.70 each and white is premium, at Rs 110. Each set comes with its own s-trap. His company Ganesh Moulds and Dies has a website with a few useful sketches.

So there, you have all the information you need to build a low cost, water economising, environment friendly, compost making, ever lasting, maintenance free latrine. Think of one for your second home. You will be making a great statement in support of our planet’s secure future.

Ganesh Moulds & Dies, 21/22 Tiny Sector, Industrial Estate, Guindy, Chennai 600 032. Ph: 22345917. Mr Subramani [Mobile] 0-9444127159

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