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Thursday, March 29, 2012

PUNE: The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has taken an eco-friendly measure of installing bio-digesters in two public toilet blocks at the pilgrim centre of Akkalkot, about 45 km from Solapur. Bio-digesters convert organic waste into nutrient-rich liquid fertiliser and biogas, which can be used as a renewable source of electrical and heat energy, and help save water. The bio-digesters have been developed by Delhi-based Defence Research Development Organisation. MTDC will buy the technology from DRDO to install it in toilets in other tourist spots, starting from eco-sensitive regions, archaeological monuments and beaches. MTDC managing director Jagdish Patil said, "About Rs 10 lakh have been sanctioned for installation of bio-digesters in Akkalkot, which is a popular pilgrimage center. If it is improved in terms of its infrastructure, it could become as developed as Shirdi." The two toilet blocks where the bio-digester technology has been installed are located near the Swami Samarth Samadhi Devasthan in Akkalkot. One block has 10 toilet seats and the other has 20. "There is scarcity of water in Akkalkot. It is impossible to keep public toilets clean without ample water with pilgrims flocking to the place. Hence, the installation of bio-digesters units here, which save water that otherwise goes to waste by way of flushing in ordinary toilets," said Naina Gurav, regional manager, MTDC, Pune. Gurav added that the MTDC is planning to replicate this technology in toilets at Elephanta Caves, MTDC resorts in Mahabaleshwar and Matheran, toilets in the parking area of Sinhagad fort and MTDC resorts that will come up in eco-sensitive regions such as Tadoba, Nagzira and Ramtek. Bio-digesters are already being used in house boats at Dal lake in Srinagar, have been installed on a trial basis in houses in Lakshadweep and are in use in certain trains. Shashikant N Manapure, director at Go Green Solutions, a green consulting company undertaking the work for MTDC, said, "The bio-digester technology does not need any chemical/mechanical or electrical backup to operate. Once the unit is fitted in the toilets, it does not need any maintenance. The technology is a substitute for septic tanks. A bio-digester is an anaerobic fermentation tank made of fibreglass reinforced plastic. It is an airtight tank, which holds the waste from toilets. Microbial action then disintegrates waste into small particles and eventually converts it into gases and fertile liquid that can be used as fertilisers for agriculture, gardening and the like." He added that the technology leaves no sludge as residue. Manapure said the technology has several advantages: apart from being a one-time investment to being maintenance-free, it saves water, reduces pollution and produces by-products that serve as fertilisers.

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