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Making a clean sweep of waste

Tapping into the business opportunity from Swachh Bharat, Rajkumar Kamat, founder, EP Kamat Group is foraying into bio-toilets in a big way, discovers Serilda Coutinho

Swachh Bharat is the latest buzzword among industry in India with companies in a race to take the campaign to the streets. In Goa too industrialists are active in Swachh initiatives by conducting cleanliness drives, rallies, etc.

Rajkumar Kamat, founder, EP Kamat group, Bicholim, appears to have taken the campaign to heart by venturing into bio-digester toilets. The group so far has installed more than 50 bio- toilet systems and is on an overdrive in installing several more across the state.

Kamat, says that, plans are to revolutionize the waste disposal system in the state by going in for large-scale production of bio-toilets. The group is moving ahead to set up a dedicated plant in Kundaim industrial estate that will be ready to function by next year. The plant is being envisaged as an integrated facility comprising of a factory to manufacture portable fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) toilet structures with capacity of 2000 bio- toilets per month as well as a bacteria cultivation unit.

“Since Goa is a small state with limited capacity for intake the proposed plant will cater to the export market. Export are being targeted to Zambia along with Maharashtra and Karnataka. Kamat points out that, currently the bio-digester toilets systems are being manufactured on a limited scale at the Bicholim factory. “We had a restricted supply in the initial months of production in order to get ourselves organized and be confident to talk to people about it. Now we are ready for large scale productions,” he says, adding that, production of the bio-toilet systems is being increased to 100 units from the coming month.

The response to the bio-toilet systems is good with about 25 residences in north Goa installing it in their homes. The other clientele base is varied and spread across the state. Customers include, Salkar Construction, Bicholim, Kineco Kaman, Pilerne, the Sankhali police station and the Beach House Goa Hotel, Colva.

An established player in powder coated products, The EP Kamat group is also into the manufacturing of portable fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) toilet shelters. “It was while supplying portable FRP toilets that we realized the problem of waste disposal and storage due to lack of space to build septic tank,” says Kamat.

He explains that, bio-digester tanks are 30-40 percent smaller than current septic tanks and are charged with anaerobic bacteria which organically break down fecal matter without using electricity or chemicals matter. The tank has several chambers which increase the retention time of waste and provides more surface area to breakdown the waste. Currently he is the only possessor of Defense Research Development Organisation (DRDO) bio digester technology in the state.

This biodegradation technology consists of the waste being charged with bacteria to completely degrade it into water. The waste water is used for gardening while the methane gas produced by the bacteria post decomposition process can be used for cooking. The bacteria innoculum is cultivated at the group’s Kudnem plant in Sankhali.

“Good quality bacteria generation requires cow dung feed that is easily available from a dairy in Kudnem. Hence we chose this location for the plant. Currently the Kudnem plant produces 50,000 litres of bacteria.”

At present the group manufactures the toilets on order basis that are customized to suit the requirement of small users such as residential homes as well as bulk users like hotels.

Speaking about the cost efficiency aspect of bio- toilets, Kamat explains that the construction of a septic tank for waste storage is costly and space consuming. In comparison investment in a bio-toilet is comparative low and proved to be an effective solution for complete disposal of waste. The cost of one unit of bio-digester tank with bacteria for an individual house that consists of four to seven users is Rs 20,000. In addition consumers also have to shell out Rs 15,000- Rs 50,000 for the shelter depending on the customization required.  An eco friendly alternative to regular toilets, the bio-toilets are maintenance free provided a few precautions are taken such as avoiding the use of concentrated acids and plastic disposal.

Having taken a step towards manufacturing and installing eco-friendly toilets has been a challenging task for Kamat. He says that, he incurred expenditure to get the technology from the DRDO and also expended funds for promoting the concept. “The only assistance we are looking for from the Government is in the form of subsidy to residents who wish to buy a bio-toilet,”he says.

Bio- digester toilets are being been intensively encouraged in various parts of India, including the railways. The railways are estimated to have around one lakh bio-toilets installed in coaches are expected to have all trains with the environment friendly toilets by 2019. The DRDO is a major provider of technology for construction of these toilets.

In a recent event in Goa,  Mukesh Meghvansi, scientist, biotechnology division, DRDO, said, “Anerobic biodegradation used in bio-toilets requires the bacteria to be filled in the tank only once which makes it a cost efficient waste disposal system.”

The present system of septic tank  contaminates the ground water table and requires frequent picking up of waste. But residents who invest in bio- digesters especially on beaches and work sites can largely benefit from this system.

“Currently there is a demand for the toilet shelters and bio-digesters together but in the future there is a huge potential for only bio-digesters especially for those residing in complexes and who already have toilets, adds, Kamat. He says that the group’s aim is to spread its clientele base to housing complexes and hotels in the state.

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