Shortage of Twin-Pits Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan - Seeker's Thoughts

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Shortage of Twin-Pits Under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

The waste from remainder of rural toilets could create a great hygiene problem which would be harmful to health and the environment, and even continue to pushing more people into manual scavenging.

Credit- Team Seeker's Thoughts

Eventually Dalit communities have been traditionally been forced into manual scavenging  and have to clean up the tanks so in other way the manual scavenging  is never going to be end from the country. 

In March 2019 the scheme claiming to be on the verge of completing toilet construction for all rural households, a government- commissioned survey shows that just over a quarter of rural toilets use this twin-pit system.

Credit- Team Seeker's Thoughts
 Data from the National Annual rural sanitation survey 2018-19, shows that just 26.6% of rural households use the recommended twin-pit system to dispose of waste excreta from their toilets. 

Septic tanks are the most popular option, with 28% of toilets connected to a septic tank with a soak pit and 6% to a tank without a soak pit.
Credit- Team Seeker's Thoughts
W.H.O as an in situ-sanitation system which claims to bypass thorny issues such as owners will be dealing with manure, not excreta.
After so much promotion twin pits over last two years, but unsurprisingly that the highest ratio of twin pits are found in states which have only recently completed toilet construction.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or mission, launched on 2nd of October 2014, is so far the largest ongoing programme in sanitation by Indian government. It has two sub-mission – Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). 

While rural mission comes under the purview of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; the urban mission comes under ministry of urban development.

October 2, 2019- 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi- is the deadline India has set for itself to eliminate open defecation in the country. To realize this goal, the government has allocated Rs- 9,000 under the swachh Bharat Abhiyaan for construction of new toilets and for repair of dysfunctional.

Twin pit toilets

Ministry of drinking water and sanitation stated that the twin pit technology was invented in India and the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission recommends this model for latrine construction.
Several states have been promoting the construction of twin pit toilets, as a part of the swachh Bharat Mission Gramin campaign to free its village form the age-old practice of open defecation.  

Government too has been promoting the use of twin pit toilets particularly in the rural areas. Government recommendation to make twin pit as this was the smaller and cheaper option.

That’s how it supposed to work 

Two leach pits, with a ‘Y’ junction, so that one pit can be filled at time. The practice is to fill one, which may take the average family five to eight years, cover it over when nearly full, and leave it to stand while the second pit is used.

After about a year, the contents of the first pit have turned into harmless – and valuable – fertilizer: A family’s waste turns from being a liability in septic tank to a growing asset. Each visit to the look is an investment; the more it is used, the quicker will be the return. The pit can be emptied safely and its contents used or sold.

Twin pits popular where government support is available

One average, 25% of household surveyed opted for twin pits: 16% in Bihar, 22% in Madhya Pradesh, 7% in Rajasthan and 35% in Uttar Pradesh.

On average single pit construction was the most popular 40%, followed by containment chambers 31%.

However, the prevalence of twin pits changed in household which received government support for building their latrines.

 In this case, twin pits was the most spotted model at 42% on average, across all the four states. Single pits were still second with 34% and containment chambers stood at 21%.

States with twin-pit system

UP, which tops the list with 64% of toilets with twin pits, whereas Jharkhand is on second on the list, with almost 58% of its toilets connected to twin pits, was declared open defecation free only late last year.

Some surveys and experts concerns

A 2018 survey of 30 cities and towns in UP by the centre for science and environment found that 87% of toilet waste is dumped into water bodies and farms lands

More than 70% of toilets without twin pits, a faecal sludge management system are needed, and that has to be an immediate priority, it is not enough to connect the toilet to a drain into local land or ponds, as it will lead to large-scale pollution of ground water experts warned.

Other concern is that on-site sanitation system as a septic tank has to be emptied and cleaned about every two or three years. 

Can understanding about twin pits and fertilizer solve the problem of partial usage?

NOT AT ONCE! But if the principal secretaries inspire their staff to empty pits, and if thus filters down the hierarchy to field workers, perhaps this could become transformative and support efforts in changing norms and practices. 

The transformative shift is from the lose-lose-lose of a septic tank – costly to build, nasty, expensive to empty, and used only partially- to win-win of twin pits- cheaper to build, harmless, easy for owners themselves to dig out, and with a valuable product, giving an incentive for use by everyone all the time, with every deposit an investment in future fertilizer.

A way forward

It has been five years of swachh bharat abhiyan, this is no small issue. Time is running out, the government if India should consider actions such as – Adoption the new international standard for non-sewered sanitation systems, helping to de-risk new technologies through supported pilot projects. Policy makers, planners, the private sector, innovators researchers need to create a sustainable ecosystem for sanitation altogether.

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