10,000 such jars have been sent by truck from Akola in Maharashtra to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.
Sona Khad: The human faecal matter which has been decomposed in toilet pits and after processing packed in as many as 10,000 container jars will be presented to the guests during the celebration to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at Sabarmati Ashram. The manure has been prepared by allowing the human faecal matter to decompose for at least 6 months in sealed toilet pits, followed by the process of Sun-drying for seven days. After the process of Sun drying, the manure has been sieved into a tea leaf-like consistency and packed into glass jars. It was reported by IE Online that as many as 10,000 such jars have been sent by truck from Akola in Maharashtra to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad.
These jars, each of which contains as much as 100-gram of completely organic manure, will be presented at the celebration. The manure is reported to be high in essential contents like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and contains seeds that will sprout upon watering.
According to the information provided by the Maharashtra government, the whole process including emptying toilet pits, collecting and processing of the manure is done together by the Akola Zilla Parishad and UNICEF. The idea behind this initiative is to popularise the use of decomposed waste as manure. Notably, this initiative will help in waste management of nearly 10 crore toilets which were built across the nation under Swachh Bharat.
‘Sona Khad’ is what the Maharashtra government has labelled the manure, implying to the gold standard of its sustainability. This project also helps in the emptying of toilet pits. The toilet pits can only be reused, once they are emptied. Also, the decomposed waste simply goes back into the soil causing no harm.
Many prominent personalities and Bollywood celebrities have come ahead and emptied toiled pits to give a message against the caste-related stigma associated with cleaning of the pits. According to the IE report, they also promoted the scientific twin-pits which are much easier to handle in comparison to the septic tanks. In fact, the UNICEF Maharashtra has prepared a step-by-step protocol on emptying out twin pit toilets a couple of years ago.
According to Jayant Deshpande, a sanitation consultant working with UNICEF, out of the 10 crore toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), at least about 6.5 crores are twin-pit toilets.
These pits, when used by an average Indian family, gets filled up every six to seven years. When sealed, the faecal matter in these pits which comprises 80 per cent water, undergoes anaerobic decomposition with the water draining out. On an average one such pit yields as much as 60 kg to 70 kg of manure. Jayant Deshpande believes that, if we do the math, as many as 1 crore toilets may be available to be emptied every year. This will yield about 60 lakh quintals of manure in totality.
Ahead of the October 2 function, the Akola ZP took help of an in-house IT engineer’s Clip-art skills to design a label. The label contains a logo, depicting the shape of the Indian squatting toilet and maize growing around the pit. The label also describes the process of making and using Sona Khaad. The glass jars which have been used to pack the manure were procured from Vadodara. The packaging was designed locally with the ‘Maha Sona Khaad’ branding. As reported, the total cost of the project cost was kept at approximately Rs 3 lakh. As the manure was free, the main costs were of the bottles, packaging and transportation.
An expert on the matter informed that the initial assessments in which Sona Khaad was used on onion fields before transplanting have depicted the higher presence of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) in the Onions with an improved yield. He believes that the Mahasona Khaad is evidence of a cleaner India and completes the chain of sanitation.