Tech & Innovation

A Boon For Indian Railways And India’s Deteriorating Sanitation Condition ! Vinod Anthony Thomas Designs Odourless And Water Free Toilet System

We all have heard the proverb, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’, but how well are we implementing it?  Vinod Anthony Thomas, student of Manipal University ( Faculty Of Architecture ) has designed a water less and odourless toilet system which is compact, resourceful and practical. This toilet system gets rid of the problems of the existing disposal system of human waste on the tracks. According to Vinod, this is “unhygienic, unethical and damaging to the environment”. There is also no effective flushing in the existing model, which results in accumulation and foul smell. In a release by Manipal University, his design replaces the present system with a conveyor which carries waste in a hermetically sealed pocket to a large collection bin to store waste. It is run manually by a crank wheel and the bin has been designed to reduce waste of water by means of decomposition and forced ventilation (evaporation of water). What an interesting and innovative concept.


vinod anthony thomas toilet system manipal student
Vinod has developed by far the best Toilet System

In conversation with Vinod:


1) Vinod, it’s great to have you on-board with Student Stories. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Vinod Anthony Thomas. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Design from India’s premier institute, School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. I have graduated from Manipal University. I love to create innovative designs that would help in serving the society and bringing in better reforms.


2) Emerging as a winner, how was your experience at the All India Competition conducted by Swacch Bharath mission ?

The competition for designing an odourless and water less toilets for the Indian Railways was organized by Research Design and Standard Organization, in response to the Honorable Prime Minister’s clarion call for a cleaner India under “Swacch Bharath Abhiyaan”. Initially designs were sent via mail for the screening and in the month of march, ten participants were shortlisted to present their designs at the RDSO, Lucknow. The results were announced and I won 75000 Rupees and shared the second place with another designer, Rahul Garg and team member Saurabh Hans.

3) It’s amazing to hear about the odorless and water less toilet system. How did you design that ?

This design does away with the existing problem of disposal of human solid wastes from the track. Existing toilet system is not subjected to effective flushing, resulting in dirt and therefore the foul smell. “My design uses a crank wheel type conveyor system carrying waste in a hermetically sealed pocket to a large collection bin to store waste. The collection bin has been designed in a way to reduce amount of waste by forced evaporation and ventilation, making the most of the aerial friction”, says proud Vinod.

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4) How did you come up with this idea ?

He says, “I was in the gym one day, running on a treadmill when this idea hit me. Every sweat drop that would fall upon the belt would reappear in few seconds. As many people use it, it is obviously prone to unhygienic conditions. This made me think of a design that would clean the sweat before reappearing. This thought stayed dormant until I came across this competition”.

5) What kind of public places in India, do you feel needs to get a complete reform for a better hygiene ?

Places where water is scarce needs a complete design intervention in the toilet system. We keep on promoting schemes to encourage people to build toilets. But what we don’t comprehend is this under-emphasized factor that everybody doesn’t have access to water. The present system of toilet consumes up to 13 litres of water in such locations and this is preposterous. So, building on this scheme is necessary but we need to have a strong foundation and funding too.

vinod anthony work project manipal student
Media coverage of Vinod’s work

6) Are you planning to expand your project in the coming future ?

Yes, I am. I have been working on a few concepts that can be recreated for arid regions. Best part about this design is there is no water flushing. The design has a rubber flooring with wash basin mounted on garbage bin. It has grab rail, louvered door with minimalistic design approach. Meanwhile, stepping up efforts to make environment better, the railways has set a target to install bio-toilets in all coaches to ensure the entire rail network as zero discharge zone by 2019. According to the action plan, railways will install 1.40 lakh bio-toilets in about 55,000 coaches in the next three years. Railways has installed about 37,000 bio-toilets in coaches till now.

Connect with him on Facebook here.

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