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     Gobar Times: Environment for Beginners

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G O B A R  S P E A K

A S K  M E

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Dear Panditji,
What is meant by Dry composting toilet? How does it work? How are the separated excretes, urine and faeces disposed? What happens to ablution water? Can this system be used in metro areas?

Dr. Girish Udapudi,
Jamkhandi, Karnataka

Dear Girishji,
Dry composting toilets are ecologically sound methods of sanitation. It minimises water use, recycles nutrients from human excreta and prevents water pollution. Ecological sanitation can save upto 25-30 per cent of household water consumption.

In most ecological sanitations, the urine and the faecal matter are diverted at the source and treated separately. Separating at the source helps in recycling wastewater efficiently. The faecal matter is used for improving soil conditions. The urine is used as a liquid fertiliser, which can be connected to a plant bed or a field.

Using blackwater (a mixture of faeces and urine) as a fertiliser can be best achieved by blending in organic household waste or farm manure and composting.

computerPaul Calvert of ‘Ecosolutions’ has designed a compact system, to suit urban as well as rural locales. To know more on ecological sanitation, and contact experts who could guide you, visit the following websites:

Dear Panditji
I find that the water in my area is hard. Can you tell me methods to decrease the hardness?

Nitin Raut,
Via e-mail

Dear Nitin,
There are simple home-made methods to soften or reduce the hardness in water. The hardness in water is caused by a high content of minerals or metal ions, mainly calcium and magnesium in the form of carbonates and sulphates. To remove the hardness, the ions are exchanged for sodium or potassium ions.

Temporary hardness, caused by carbonate ions, can be removed by boiling. In the process, a scale forms on the inside of the vessel. This is made of insoluble calcium carbonate.

The most economical way to soften household water is with an ion exchange water softner, by using sodium chloride or common salt. The principle is the same, where the ions of hardness-causing minerals are exchanged for sodium. The hardwater passes through an ion exchange resin made of beads (artificial or natural zeolites). Ion exchange resins do not remove chlorine or organic contaminants in water. This is done by using charcoal, usually not done in homes.

Dear Panditji,
I was quite excited to read your story on urban birds. I have lived in Bangalore on and off for most of my life. The common saprrow was one bird which was in abundance in eariler years. Today, I cannot see a single sparrow. What could be the reason? What have we done to make this bird disappear? What can we do to get it back? Sometimes I travel to smaller towns in Punjab and am delighted to see hundreds of sparrows there...The only birds I now see in Bangalore are the crows and in the mango season, the koels and parrots.

Vasant Cavale,
Via E-mail


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