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Eco-San toilets provide hope in flood-prone Bihar

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New Delhi, Sep 7: Incessant rain in August along the Nepal-India border caused flooding in many districts of Bihar — leaving over 300 dead and affecting nearly 14 million people in 18 districts.

Now, another threat looms: Waterborne diseases. In flood conditions, drinking water becomes a luxury as many sources are either fully or partially inundated, rendering them useless. People who try to use hand pumps in flooded areas may consume contaminated water.

In Naya Tola Bishambharpur (NTB), in West Champaran district, the watery quagmire surrounding the village poses another formidable challenge. During floods, sanitation becomes a particular problem as people have reduced means of maintaining personal hygiene, especially with regard to defecation.

Open defecation only adds to the contamination of ground water, which then affects those who use it for household uses. A workable solution would require addressing multiple needs regarding clean drinking water and secure sanitation.

To this end, the phaydemand sauchalaya, or eco-san toilet, was introduced in NTB to address the needs of safe and secure sanitation. Through its innovative structural design, the eco-san toilet offers an effective means of addressing sanitation compared to standard flush toilets.

In the alluvial flood plains of Bihar, the use of flush toilets increases the risk of contaminating the shallow water table. Such toilets also face clogging, raising the risk of infection for users, specifically women and children, in a region prone to floods.

The eco-san toilet is constructed on raised platforms to ensure access even during flood conditions. The height of the toilets is determined on the basis of the highest flood water levels anticipated in the area.

The toilet has two different openings that collect urine and faecal matter — connected to two separate storage tanks below the toilet, which are situated above ground. Because the eco-san is a dry toilet, the breakdown of faecal matter creates no foul odour.

The collection pits can be accessed by openings created by uncemented bricks positioned at the back of the eco-san toilet. Faecal matter, now in its form as humanure, can be applied to crops as fertiliser, and the urine as a urea substitute. As a flood-adaptive technology, the toilet not only provides secure use, but due to its water-less design, also cuts the risk of groundwater contamination and successive infections.

Any successful technology intervention must be adopted by the intended beneficiaries. On this count, a study by Purnamita Dasgupta at the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi, seems to indicate success.

Dasgupta’s 2016 study details high levels of vulnerability to floods and extreme health risks faced in West Champaran due to inadequate sanitation. Her team did a cost-benefit analysis of adopting eco-san toilets and found that substantial health costs and convenience losses can be averted by ensuring access to toilets. Ecological sanitation options provide the most cost-effective adaptation option where benefits far exceed the cost.

Live examples of toilets that are currently being used by households in the Kairi community in West Champaran are a testimony to the effectiveness of eco-san toilets as a viable solution for sanitation in flood-affected regions.

Since 2015, residents of the village have been constructing toilets one by one, seeing the positive reaction from their neighbours who had already done so.

On August 8, when flood waters rushed through the village entering homes and even washing away an embankment of geo-bags along the Pandai river, the eco-san toilet remained standing, and accessible. The flood waters that came to Kairi only remained for a few hours, but even at their peak level, the top steps of the toilet remained above the water.

This is a promising turn of events, as the level of floodwaters reported in this area have been the highest in the region, even compared to worse flood events in recent memory such as in 1993.

Waterborne diseases do not directly arise from the use of these toilets, because the chambers protect the waste matter from direct contact with the flood water. This also proves the efficacy of eco-san toilets which is a cost-effective technology and can provide crucial access to sanitation during floods.

IANS

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Bengal MLA was ‘killed’ as he joined BJP: Tripura CM

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Biplab Deb

Agartala, July 13 : Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Monday alleged that West Bengal legislator Debendra Nath Ray was killed because he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party last year.

Deb, who was the Tripura state BJP President until recently, in a tweet said: “Body of Sri Debendra Nath Ray, BJP MLA from Hemtabad, a reserved seat, in Uttar Dinajpur, was found hanging in Bindal, near his village house. People are of clear opinion that he was first killed & then hung. His crime? He joined the BJP in 2019.”

The 65-year-old MLA was found mysteriously hanging on Monday morning, a few meters away from his home near a local market in his village, about 454 km from West Bengal capital Kolkata.

Ray had joined the BJP in 2019. Earlier, he was elected to the state assembly as Communist Party of India-Marxist nominee in 2016.

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Doctor who managed Goa’s only Covid hospital tests positive

The state currently has more than 900 active Covid-19 cases, with 17 fatalities linked to coronavirus.

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Dr Gomes

Panaji, July 13 : Dr. Edwin Gomes, who had emerged as the face of Goa”s Covid-19 treatment and care effort, and had served as the in-charge of medication of patients at the state’s only designated Covid-19 hospital, has tested positive for the viral infection, a government spokesperson said.

“Dr. Gomes has been admitted to a state government facility for doctors infected by coronavirus,” the spokesperson said.

Gomes, 58, is also the head of medicine at the state”s only medical college, the Goa Medical College, and had last week ended his unbroken 98-day shift at the designated Covid-19 hospital.

The state currently has more than 900 active Covid-19 cases, with 17 fatalities linked to coronavirus.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that “four to five” Covid-19 patients who died, were suffering from cancer. “Eight to 10 patients were above the age of 80 years, while one also died of liver failure. The death rate has increased due to co-morbid conditions,” Sawant told reporters at the State Secretariat.

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Delhi riots: Court rejects bail plea of Tahir Hussain

Communal clashes broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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Tahir Hussain

New Delhi, July 13 : A Delhi court on Monday dismissed the bail application of suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor, Tahir Hussain, in connection with the murder of Intelligence Bureau (IB) staffer Ankit Sharma.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav observed, “There is enough material on record to presume that the applicant was present at the spot of crime and was exhorting the rioters of a particular community and as such, he did not use his hands and fists, but rioters as ”human weapons”.”

Intelligence Bureau (IB) staffer Ankit Sharma was killed in Chand Bagh area during the northeast Delhi violence on February 25. His body was recovered from the drain and had 51 sharp and blunt injuries on it.

The court further said that there is a possibility that if Hussain is released on bail at this stage, he may tamper with the evidence or threaten the witnesses.

Hussain, who is in judicial custody since March, had sought bail on the grounds that there is no cogent evidence to connect him to the alleged murder of Sharma.

Besides this, the court also noted that Hussain”s involvement is being investigated upon with regard to his connection with members of PFI, Pinjratod, Jamia Co-ordination Committee, United Against Hate Group and anti-CAA protesters.

“Riots in the area of northeast Delhi were carried out in an organized manner and as part of the deep-rooted conspiracy,” said the sessions judge while denying bail to Hussain.

Hussain has also been booked under the stringent anti-terror law — Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a case related to alleged conspiracy in the riots.

Communal clashes broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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