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05 Mar 2024, Edition - 3157, Tuesday

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An architect shoots her dream of eco-toilets

Sneha L


One often wonders where the garbage from collected from the doorstep goes. Equally interesting in these days of growing consciousness about water conservation is the thought about an alternative toilet design to save water.

The documentary film `MEEL’ by S Vishnu Priya has the answers. An architect from Madurai, she has spent almost a year documenting the garbage disposal method and an alternative toilet design.

“I had applied for masters degree and almost got through in an Australian University. But one day when my friends and I were discussing about sanitary conditions in government schools we realised that many of them do not have toilets because there is no water. This triggered the thought in me and I wanted to something about it. So I stayed back home,” she told The Covai Post.

From there she started research to design a toilet model which would not require much water and learnt about a one which can convert human fecal matter into fertiliser with the help of ash. Musiri town panchayat in Trichy had such community ‘eco-san’ toilets.

“Musiri town panchayat also has segregated garbage into bio-degradable and ‘non-bio-degradable. The former was recycled and the latter turned into fertiliser. So, this one town panchayat had two-efficient methods to save energy,” says Vishnu Priya.

Being an architect, she was motivated, though she did not have any film-making experience. The MEEL team has travelled to Musiri, Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pondicherry, Hyderabad, Kerala for shooting. Vishnu Priya met people who have an alternative toilet model idea, including Paul Calvert, who designed the ‘eco-san’ toilet and interviewed them.

She will be shooting in Ladakh and Delhi for the movie which is to be released soon.

“We have witnessed a generation which did not buy shoes unless there was a need to and also a generation that buys 10 pairs of shoes for no reason. This consumerist culture is not helping the environment,” she adds.

The documentary is to let people know about the alternative toilet design-methods and thereby make a change. The film will not only talk about the ‘eco-san’ toilet design but also about doing an end to the practice of manual scavenging.

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