An aesthetic solution to a stinking problem

e-toilets set up on the museum and zoo premises in Thiruvananthapuram.

Fed up of stinking toilets or absence of comfort stations as you go on long drives? Local administration bodies and tourism authorities in Kerala have set up a fully-automated public toilet facility whose fame has crossed even international borders. 

Designed by Technopark-based Eram Scientific, the toilet called Delight combines electronics, web and mobile technologies to help a person answer nature’s call comfortably. It also rakes in additional revenue for its operators by way of selling the outer wall space for advertisement. Delight e-toilets have been installed in over 30 locations mostly in Kerala and in six locations in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The sliding door to the facility opens automatically at the drop of a coin whose value will be decided by the operator. For instance, the toilet installed on the Museum and Zoo premises in Thiruvananthapuram opens only at the drop of a 5-rupee coin. As you push open the door of the toilet, there is a minor irritant by way of paucity of room space as in railway toilets. But the sensor-guided and attractive overhead lighting inside and rotating
exhaust fan try to reassure you.

There is a pre-flush system which releases 100 ml of water to wet the closet clean before each use. To flush, we need to push the green button on the wall. Lest we forget to flush, the unit has its own mechanism to release the flush. For usage less than three minutes which is standard time limit for urinating, only 1.5 litres of water is released and four litres for over three minute usage. The platform is also cleaned automatically once the user leaves. The water tank stores 500 litres of water from the supply source.

Bio-membrane reactor

For efficient waste management in areas where there is no drainage tank facility, the company also installs a bio-membrane tank which uses green technology to manage collection and disposal of waste. The bio-membrane reactor is a nanotechnology-aided device which instantly recycles the used water for future use. According to M S Vinod, director of Eram Scientific, “the human excreta is treated and it is converted to a sand-like material, which will not have any bacteria and it is remo­ved physically once in three months.” 

The unit or units can be controlled from a remote location by GPRS system, which facilitates remote opening and closing, monitoring of the daily collection and checking the unit’s status through a web application. Solar panels can be connected to generate and add on to the normal power systems. Its unique structure facilitates the display of advertisement boards on its outer surface, which can act as a source of additional income for its operators.

According to Manohar Varghese, who heads the company’s media relations, the e-toilets in Greater Noida have raked in huge ad revenues that the usage is free.  According to him, the short space inside public toilets was intended to prevent its misuse. ``The standard space inside is designed for only one person. More space invites chances of misuse,’’ he said.

Delight’s toilets came with both western and Indian style commodes and the price ranged between Rs 3.5 lakh and Rs 8.5 lakh, which included that of bio-membrane reactor’s price. However, the toilets installed in India have mostly been confi­ned to Indian style commodes. The price also depended on the manufacturing materials like fibre, metal sheets, stainless steel, MS pillars and a combination of these materials. Electronic and cleaning features will be the same for all variants, but more facilities for physically challen­ged, women and children will be added to the top models.

Orders have been placed by various agencies with Eram Scientific for about 300 units in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and even in the African continent. The company is part of the Eram group which has operational presence in the Gulf countries and in India.  Unlike in the west where easy-to-manage dry toilets are in vogue, Delight almost succeeds in addressing the challenges of managing the wet system followed in India.  

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